At approximately 11 pm local time on 26 May 2015 Madagascar’s parliament impeached President Hery Rajaonarimampianina for alleged violation of the country’s constitution and general incompetence. The official tally in the parliamentary vote showed that of the 125 parliamentarians present, 121 voted in favour of the impeachment of Rajaonarimampianina, with four voting against it- easily achieving the two thirds quorum constitutionally required for impeachment. The results have been sent to the Malagasy High Constitutional Court (HCC), which will ultimately judge whether to ratify the impeachment or not. The HCC’s decision is expected soon.
There have been some claim that’s the vote was riddled with irregularities, with one parliamentarian claiming that there was less than 100 parliamentarians present in the Assembly. Rajaonarimampianina on 28 May 2015 challenged the legality of a parliamentary vote to impeach him and said the country needed stability to avoid a return to years of crisis.
Rajaonarimampianina has been in office for 16 months and it was hoped his election would end years of political unrest on the island nation. But his critics say he has failed to deliver on his economic promises and accuse him of stalling on the establishment of a high court and the implementation of promised reforms. In addition, members of parliament say the president has shown a lack of respect for the institution and its internal workings, an example of which was his refusal to expressly rule out dissolving parliament as he has the power to do under the constitution. Opponents have further claimed that the president has violated Madagascar’s constitution and the secular nature of the state by giving speeches in churches, in a nation where just over half the 23 million people practice mostly local animist religions. Mixing religion and politics is a sensitive issue in Madagascar. Former President Marc Ravalomanana, ousted in the 2009 coup, was also accused of using churches to drum up support when in power. The vast majority of Rajaonarimampianina’s allies have turned their back on the president in recent months, resulting in the president aligning himself with Ravalomanana and his TIM party.
Madagascar has suffered five years of political turmoil beginning in 2009 when Andry Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana from power. The coup left the country isolated in the international community and deprived of foreign aid. Whichever way the HCC decides, Madagascar will no doubt be left reeling in political instability and uncertainty, which will ultimately detract the government’s attention away from much needed development in the country. Further the political turbulence could well deter foreign investment as well as put off already cautious donor countries, something Madagascar can ill afford as it is still very aid dependent. There have been whisperings of the possibility of another coup, which would send the country into political chaos.