Radu Mazare’s bad luck: the new president of Madagascar just unleashed „the war on corruption”
Radu Mazare was arrested and will be extradited to Romania after a quick decision by the authorities in Madagascar, although the former mayor of Constanta has lived without problems for two years in the African country where he has invested in tourism. Why have the Malagasy authorities suddenly mobilized? The explanation is the change of regime in January 2019, when the new president and his government launched an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign. The ties with the people of the former president, but also with the son of Romania’s honorary consul to Madagascar, were of no help to Mazare, sentenced to 9 years in prison after a criminal investigation of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
Madagascar, a country with a population of 25 million and the average age of only 19.9 years, is plagued by chronic corruption and scandals with large public-procurement contracts involving all previous governments.
The new political regime in Madagascar
In December 2018, Andry Rajoelina (44) won the presidential election with a hard anti-corruption message, promising to establish new rules of integrity in public administration and to replace high-ranking corrupt dignitaries.
A former entrepreneur in IT, advertising and media, Andry Rajoelina harshly attacked his predecessor for a contract between the government of Madagascar and Daewoo Logistics through which the South Korean company received in concession half of the country’s arable land for the cultivation of corn and palm trees oil.
During the elections, Rajoelina relied heavily on an anti-corruption speech. According to the BBC, the candidate has promised „zero tolerance for corruption.” Immediately after winning the election and being appointed president, Andry Rajoelina announced legislative changes and replaced the heads of key institutions as part of the war on corruption.
In February 2019, the new president took a new radical step in the fight against corruption: he named a respected civilian fighter at the head of the Integrity Committee. The appointment of Sahondra Rabenarivo was welcomed by the entire civil society, but also by other states in the region confronted with chronic corruption. Later, prosecutors began arresting former government officials accused of corruption, some of them extradited from Mauritius, where they had fled in the meantime.
How Mazare lived peacefully for two in Madagascar
Until his arrest on May 8, Radu Mazare lived in Madagascar for almost two and a half years, since December 2017, without any problems. He arrived in Antananarivo with a business visa issued by the Madagascar Embassy in Rome. According to G4Media.ro, Mazare had at that time a new passport issued by the Romanian authorities, although he was under judicial control, which raises questions as to how he acquired the new passport.
Once in Madagascar, Mazare began to do business with government and local officials who were part of the former Ravalomanana regime.
The former mayor of Constanta was helped by the son of Honorary Consul of Romania to Madagascar, Lacramioara Toader. Former Honorary Consul of Madagascar in Bucharest, Serge Rameau, told Free Europe about the relationship between Radu Mazare and Dorin Freeman, the son of Lacramioara Toader: „Before she was appointed Honorary Consul, she had a business deal with Radu Mazăre. Her son, Dorin, bought land for Radu Mazare, because foreigners are not allowed purchase land in Madagascar. He leased the land back to Radu Mazare for 99 years and supervised the construction of the tourist complex Mazare owns. But their relationship broke down on non-amicable terms.”
According to the Rise Project, Mazare began investing in a tourist complex called Mantasaly in Ankorikahely. At the inauguration of his tourist complex, he invited officials close to the former president, according to local publication L”Express.2.
Radu Mazare will be brought back to Romania to serve his 9-year prison sentence received in 2018 in the fictitious land retrocession case in the seaport of Constanta. He was arrested on May 8 by the Malagasy authorities, who gave a deadline of six days to the Romanian authorities to send all the necessary documents to begin the extradition process. Justice Minister Ana Birchall has fully mobilized the ministry, and paperwork has been received on time by the authorities in Madagascar. The speed and exemplary mobilization of the Romanian government are unprecedented in such a case in recent years since the PSD took the government. According to G4Media.ro, an escort of Romanian policemen will go to Antananarivo by the end of this week to bring Radu Mazăre to Bucharest.
Traducerea: Ovidiu Harfas
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