afrol News, 24 September - The Southern African Development Community (SADC), where Madagascar is a suspended member country, is leading efforts to have Madagascar's coup government diplomatically isolated. They succeeded to gag Madagascar at the UN.
The UN News Service featured a mysterious message earlier this week, titled "Madagascar declines the podium at UN development summit." UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss in an incomprehensible statement said Madagascar's Foreign Minister Hyppolite Rarison Ramaroson, on a "voluntary and sovereign basis," decided not to speak at the debate.
Mr Deiss refused to elaborate on the reasons for the sudden cancellation of Minister Ramaroson's intervention. He only made a short statement to the General Assembly praising "Madagascar's commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)."
Delegates at the UN were unaware of the drama that had just taken place. According to revelations in the Malagasy press, Mr Ramaroson's declination was far from "voluntary and sovereign," it turned out.
According to 'Madagascar Tribune', Mr Ramaroson's withdrawal from the rostrum came after a strong intervention from fellow SADC diplomats. "Namibia seemed particularly determined in lobbying to isolate his delegation," the daily had found, but all SADC diplomats were acting demonstratively each time the Malagasy delegation turned up.
On Wednesday, the diplomatic conflict peaked as Foreign Minister Ramaroson started responding to what he saw as provocations from his SADC colleagues. The Malagasy Minister demonstratively left the room each time a SADC representative entered the podium to present their countries' views on the MDGs.
Mr Deiss, observing the increasingly undiplomatic tension between the Malagasy and SADC representatives, decided to intervene and call for a meeting. An angry Foreign Minister Ramaroson - a former admiral of the Malagasy navy - at the meeting underlined Madagascar was more sure than ever it wanted to leave the SADC bloc.
Fearing an incident, the UN General Assembly President urged Mr Ramaroson to calm his temper. After a discussion, the two men agreed it would be best for the Malagasy Minister not to enter the podium. Instead, Mr Deiss would make a short intervention on behalf of Madagascar, explaining why the country "declined the podium."
Madagascar has been internationally isolated since March 2009, when DJ Andry Rajoelina staged a coup against President Marc Ravalomanana. Since then, Madagascar has been denied development aid, trade benefits and seen its membership in SADC and the African Union (AU) suspended.
SADC and AU-led initiatives to return the country to a constitutional order have so far failed, and sanctions against Madagascar are growing ever more heavy. The UN incident demonstrates that the SADC bloc is not planning to lower its pressure against strongman Rajoelina.
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