By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Editor in Chief
The ousted president of Madagascar declared the world condemned the coup d’état, that forced him to flee the island nation and he vowed to return to power, according to the Associated Press.
Former President Marc Ravalomanana, who has visited ACU’s campus twice, resigned from his office March 17 after the military pronounced Andry Rajoelina, who had led months of protests to overthrow Ravalomanana, the new leader of Madagascar.
Rajoelina was sworn in Saturday as the new leader in the capital city, but several diplomats boycotted the event because they viewed Rajoelina’s rise to office as an illegal coup, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Less than 10 students from Madagascar attend ACU for various graduate and undergraduate studies. Those students declined to comment for this story. Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, addressed the controversy in Madagascar during the conclusion of his State of the University address Tuesday.
“Last May, Marc Ravalomanana was on our campus, proud as he could be of the 24 graduates in his Madagascar Presidential Scholars Program,” Money said during his speech. “Today, he is in exile, forced to resign by political turmoil and an unconstitutional military coup that have shaken his country to its core. The same place where he and his family lived – where we met with him and where our graduates worked for him and his Cabinet – has been looted and heavily damaged by opposition forces in the past week.” Money said he and his wife Pam invited several students to their home, where they listened to the students’ concerns for the safety of their friends and families at their home island. Money said they prayed with them for strength, and he reminded them that “God is at work” even in challenging times.
“I am deeply impressed by the courage and faith they are showing in the face of adversity, and sometimes, I wonder who is teaching whom,” Money said in his speech.
Since Rajoelina took power, the U.S. government has suspended all non-humanitarian aid, the African Union suspended the island’s memberships and some African countries have imposed several sanctions on the Malagasy government, according to the AP.
Rajoelina pledged to hold new elections in two years, once a new constitution and new electoral laws were installed and an independent electoral commission was installed. A national conference will take place April 2-3 to discuss the electoral calendar and try to promote national reconciliation, according to the AP.
“It is up to us, it is up to you, it is up to me.to save the nation, defend the union and our national unity,” Ravalomanana said in a pre-recorded message to more than 10,000 supporters gathered in protest of the opposition group’s actions.
Several supporters of the former president also have protested in the streets.
Ravalomanana toured the campus in February 2005 and visited the 24 students he sent to ACU as part of the Madagascar Presidential Scholars Program, and again in May 2008 to witness the students’ graduation. Ravalomanana received an honorary doctorate of law degree from ACU and spoke at Commencement.
Dr. John Tyson, vice president for development; Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, and several other members of the ACU administration, faculty and staff also traveled to Madagascar for the special Commencement in the students’ home country in July.
Ravalomanana’s relationship with ACU began in 2003 when he met Tyson, while the latter was visiting Madagascar as part of a delegation from World Christian Broadcasting, a organization that beams radio programming with Christian messages into Russia, China and the Pacific Rim. Ravalomanana was impressed by Tyson’s description of the university and has said ACU was the perfect choice for the future leaders of Madagascar.
Some of the 24 students who graduated from ACU returned to Madagascar, while others went on to pursue graduate degrees at ACU and other universities.