New York Times Article On Madagascar
Date January 4, 2010
Relevant Logs Operation: Apollo's Arrow

New York Times, Special Edition, January 4, 2009

From the moment the U.S. decided to remove the brutal regime of General Edmond Rasoul and help Malagasy people restore peace, one of our key challenges has been enabling the leaders of Madagascar's major communities to overcome their mistrust and fear of each other. This has not been easy.

Rasoul was skilled at pitting one group against another to strengthen his position, as is evident with his separation of Evolved and Non-Evolved citizenry. The fear and resistance that has plagued Madagascar since his downfall have only deepened these divisions. Citizens who have lived under the General's Regime have a strong distrust for the Evolved and many still blame them for the condition that has befallen their country.

But now a process is underway to bridge these differences. On January 2nd, groups of diplomats from the United States hosted the leaders of the MLF and representatives of the disperate Malagasy communities for a shared lunch. The group included Madagascar Liberation Front leader Dajan Dunsimi; Malagasy People's Representative leaders such as Botani Musawa, and surviving members from the dismantled Malagasy parliament, regional government. The goal was to start the process of forming a national unity government.

The discussions were often highly emotional. The leaders of each of Madagascar's communities strongly feel and express the pain suffered by their people during Madagascar's difficult dictatorship and the war crimes comitted by General Rasoul's loyalists during that time. Members of the MLF expressed bitterness about the distrust of the citizenry of Antananarivo and Madagascar's other major cities and communes due to the presence of the Evolved in their ranks, as well as displeasure at the United States Military for the countless civilians deaths during Operation: Apollo's Arrow from inaccurate bombing raids that cost the lives of so many innocent Malagasy. Members of the Malagasy People's League complained about what they see as persecution by the new Madagascari government's security forces for their distrust of the Evolved, and cite a failure to be able to identify and recognize the dangers that they could potentially represent in a new government and society. Overcoming these grievances will not be easy, and the bargaining over specific roles in the new government will be tough and often contentious.

To build on this progress, Madagascar's leaders now need to agree on a process to unite the country.

First, they need to form a government of national unity. This is not a matter of dividing up ministries and communes, with each used to favor the parochial interests of the minister's ethnic or genetic community or political faction. Rather, it means selecting ministers from all communities who will build political bridges, who are committed to a unified Madagascar and who have demonstrated professional competence. Getting the next government right is far more important that getting it formed fast.

Malagasy leaders also must agree to a decision-making process that gives political minorities confidence that the majority will share power and take their legitimate concerns into account. Madagascar's leaders believe that this could be accomplished by forming a council composed of key Malagasy leaders to focus on issues of national importance.

Elected leaders need to govern from the center, not the ideological extremes. This is particularly true in the security area, where the new government must continue increasing the capability of Madagascar security forces while ensuring that Defense and Interior Ministry officials are chosen on the basis of competence, not ethnic or sectarian background. In addition, the government must begin the process of demobilizing the factional militias across the country.

The greatest hurdle will be re-integrating the Evolved into the nation of Madagascar and soothing the tensions between that genetic rift. Th healing process of the suffering nation will not be easy, but the building blocks have been formed, and though discussions had begun about the potential of an Evolved Registration system in the country of Madagascar, modeled after the American Linderman Act registry, no affirmative decisions have yet to be made, and Madagascar's future is still very much undecided.

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