Monday, January 22, 2007

Serbia and Madagascar

The calming down of Madagascar

Marc Ravalomanana, the President of Madagascar (pictured here) was sworn in for his second term on Friday. On Saturday he nominated General Charles Rabemananjara, the Army Chief of Staff, as his new prime minister.

Madagascar used to be home to one of the most unusual political situations in the world- a country with two presidents.

It started in 2001 when Mr. Ravalomanana won an election, beating the longtime dictator Admiral Didier Ratsiraka, who had been in power more or less continuously since 1975. But dictators do not go easily, and Mr. Ratsiraka refused to step down. And neither did the other guy. The extreme stubbornness of both men eventually resulted in them both declaring themselves president, and both forming governments. Said the Guardian at the time, "the impasse has left the island with two presidents, two cabinets, two central bank directors, two capitals - and one suffering population."

The madness of two governments continued for about a year, and there was something of a low-intensity civil war between the forces of the two presidents. Admiral Ratsiraka eventually gave up, and fled into exile in France. Ravalomanana was re-elected as sole president in December.

The re-fascisization of Serbia

Serbia is one of the world's newest countries; it broke up with Montenegro in June of last year. Yesterday the nation held its first parliamentary elections since independence.

Historically the Serbians have been a very difficult people to deal with, and their tendency towards extreme nationalism has caused a lot of problems over the last 100 years, from the murder of Franz Ferdinand to the wars of the late 1990's over the status of Kosovo. In recent years their ambitions had been curbed somewhat by the fact that they'd been forced to participate in mutli-ethnic states, first in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and then in the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro. But now that they're all by themselves, they can be as radical as they want to be, and no longer have to compromise with anyone.

And that's partially what seems to be reflected in the result of yesterday's election. The most votes went to the self-declared "Radical Party," who will now hold the plurality of seats in the Serbian reichstag. The party is described as being "extreme right," and was one of the parliamentary coalition partners of the late Sloban Milosevic during his time in power. People forget that Milosevic was democratically elected.

The Radical Party used to be led by Milosevic's vice president, but he was arrested in 2003 and is currently on trial in the Hague for crimes against humanity. So now the acting leader is Milosevic's other vice president, Tomislav Nikolić (seen here). He will likely become the new prime minister of Serbia now, unless the other parties in the parliament form some sort of elaborate coalition to keep him out of power.


Lugia2 said...

Actually, Serbia hasn't changed that much, except for the fact that the Radicals have slightly more seats (they already had a plurality) and that the second and third place parties have switched: Orignally, the PM had the second largest party and the president the third; now it's the other way around.

Barring them doing something stupid- like the current PM joining with the radicals- little will change.

Dylan said...

was it Serbia that split from Montenegro, or Montenegro that split from Serbia? Haha I'm sorry JJ I'm not meaning to nitpick again, I love both your sites (Filibuster + here)!

Anyways... those crazy Serbs. I don't know if that area (former Yugoslav countries) will EVER calm down, jeez.

Psudo said...

The former Yugoslavia gets more attention because it's in Europe. How many places in Africa are having dramatic unrest? Yet I didn't even hear about Somalia's three governments and related strife until I found J.J.

Can anyone tell me why there are two Congos? I'm sure there's a good story there, but I don't know it. Clinton didn't send troops to Rwanda, but he did to Kosovo. How is this not bias?

iod said...

BTW, are you following the story about the Israeli president? He's now being indicted for rape and other sexual offenses. So far, he's been taking sanctuary behind his presidential immunity. Surprisingly, the Knesset does *not* have a majority to impeach him. It's quite an embarrassing story, really...

Luke said...

The Congos are complicated, but basically, King Leopold II of Belgium convinced the US that he wanted to form a United States of Africa "Congro Free State." Once we recognized his claim, he got Europe to give him the Congo basin, and part of the coast (which Portugal claimed).

The French were trying to take over central Africa at the same time, and got plain Congo. On independence, we get two nations: DRC or Zaire, and the plain Republic of the Congo.

Montenegro split off from Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia is the sucessor to Serbia and Montenegro, and Serbia and Montenegro was the sucessor to Yugoslavia.

So technically speaking, one could argue that Serbia dates back to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, though in fact the country is as new as Montengro. Both were seperate constituent parts of S&M. Serbia gets the official international connections though, not a mere breakup like Czechoslovakia.

And yeah, I wish Africa were covered better. I used to know fairly little about it (I knew of Somaliland, but didn't realize it was free, democratic, and stable until an article in The Economist).

The Economist has decent coverage (I'd like more, but it's a small magazine), and we got a journal in high school that covered Africa occasionally. But that's long annoyed me, mainline publications ignore it almost completely.

Of course, the coverage is pretty bad in all the local papers. They think celebrity gossip is news, and miss a lot of real news.

Ron said...

Israel has its first female president... well sort off...

The president was declared "Temporarily incapacitated to perform duties"

A situation that automatically turns the speaker of the parliment to deputy president

On the other hand, this motion barres the supreme court against pressing any legal charges against the current president (despite the recomendations) for atleast three months, unless he quits

Why would he quit is beyond me, except for the legal assylum that it provides him, there is also a nice salary of roughly 12,000 CAD + all expenses paid

hoshie said...

Montenegro is the newest nation in the world. The Charter the Serbia and Montenegro both signed in 2003 stated that if *both* Serbia and Montenegro held a vote and left the Union, both republics would been the successor to the union. The Charter said:

"Should both member states vote for a change in their respective state
status or for independence in a referendum procedure, all disputable issues shall be regulated in a succession procedure just as was the case with the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

Now, as we know, this didn't happen. What happened is under another clause:

"Should Montenegro break away from the state union of Serbia and Montenegro, the international instruments pertaining to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly UN SC Resolution 1244, would concern and apply in their entirety to Serbia as the successor."

The Serbian government released a statement that stated clearly they were the successor state to the union. It can be read here:

From this, it's clear who the newest nation is.

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