News Brief
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Madagascar Bans Public Protests Ahead Of Elections

Madagascar’s government has banned protests among the general public ahead of its upcoming November elections.

Madagascar’s government has banned public protests as tensions grow in the months leading to the presidential election in November, Radio France International (RFI) reported from a correspondent in Antananarivo today. The announcement came on Friday, March 31 with a statement from Cécile Manorohanta, Madagascar's minister of interior.

Manorohanta stated that protests would be prohibited in public spaces, but citizens could still hold them in enclosed areas.

“This measure applies to all political parties and to all parliamentarians, except for members of the executive, who need to meet and listen to the population,” Manorohanta said.

The current president, Andry Rajoelina, is expected to seek re-election in November. He has been president since his inauguration in 2019, after winning the 2018 election with 55% of the vote. Rajoelina's political party, Tanora malaGasy Vonona (Young Malagasies Determined), currently holds a majority in the Madagascar National Assembly.

The ban on public organizing stirred strong reactions in Malagasy people, who saw the move as an infringement on their rights.

Hajo Andrianainarivelo, a leader of the opposition Malagasy Miara-Miainga party and a former minister, stated that the ban indicates Madagascar is sliding in a dangerous direction.

"It is a denial of democracy. We strongly condemn this statement and this decision, especially on the eve of a crucial election. The Constitution is no longer respected,” Andrianainarivelo said in the RFI report. “How do you want to have confidence in future deadlines if the government is doing everything now to prevent the voice of political parties and civil society from being heard? What interests this regime is to stay in place. Nothing stops them. And today we are moving towards dictatorship. It is extremely serious.”

In the past, critics of the Malagasy government have accused the administration of taking measures to silence public dissent. The Reporters Without Borders press freedom index ranked Madagascar 98 out of 180 in 2022, a significant decline from 58 out of 180 in the previous year. Reporters Without Borders wrote of Madagascar in the 2022 index:

“Madagascar is characterized by a very rich media landscape that is highly polarized and lacking in independence. Attacks and arrests targeting journalists are quite rare.”

In recent months, Madagascar has also faced enormous cyclones that tore through the island of 29 million people, which has added extra strain on its economy and political system.

Book covers of 'Thomas Sankara Speaks', 'Freedom is a Constant Struggle' and 'Let My People Go'.

Here are 7 Important Books to Read About Revolution

Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane hand-picks 7 books written by Black authors reflecting on the revolution. As there is continued political instability across the African continent (and the world), these books put into words the difficult experiences through which many Black people are living.

Black people are thinkers and have been thinking about change and revolution for a long time. I often return to Audre Lorde whose thinking has shaped me in many ways. In February of 1982, she delivered an address titled Learning from the 60s as part of the celebration of the Malcolm X weekend at Harvard University. In her address, she said that, "As Black people, if there is one thing we can learn from the 60s, it is how infinitely complex any move for liberation must be." In this, Lorde urged us to understand that any move for our liberation is one that is complex.

Reflecting on her words now, we see how they ring true when observing large scale global movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #EndSARS, #EndAnglophoneCrisis, the global pandemic and several others. These movements have reminded us that the quest for liberation itself is undeniably complex and that it requires us to think quite deeply and sincerely about what liberation actually looks like.

As Lorde says in her speech: "[R]evolution is not a one-time event. It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity to make a genuine change in established and outgrown responses. For instance, it is learning to address each other's difference with respect." Although books will not lead the revolution, they are our tools to begin to concepetualise what others before us have done and how we can improve on what is already there. These books help us to begin to think and to imagine our freedoms particularly as Black people.

Below is a list of 7 important books written by Black authors about the revolution.

Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane is a South African advocate and co-founder of the literature podcast, Cheeky Natives. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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