BRUTALLY FORCED OUT OF HIS COUNTRY in a violent coup‘d état, enduring five years of exile despairing over failed negotiations, and jailed incommunicado and threatened with death on his return – that’s the epic story of Madagascar’s President Marc Ravalomanana told in a new documentary film to be shown in South Africa this month.
The intimate portrait of his ordeal is brought to South African audiences at the Encounters Film Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg, in the documentary, Return of a President – After the coup in Madagascar, by Danish film maker Lotte Mik-Meyer. It unashamedly tells the story of the coup from President Ravalomanana’s experience.
Mr Ravalomanana was released six months after the film’s recordings were completed and is considering running in the presidential election next year.
The film was nominated for a F:ACT AWARD at CPH:DOX, the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, the third largest in the world – where it had its world premiere to critical acclaim in March this year.
‘Return of a President’ is currently being translated into Malagasy for screening in the island country.Filmmaker Lotte Mik-Meyer was granted unique access to Mr Ravalomanana and his advisors during his exile and return. She is present in private family and political gatherings and during confidential meetings; and observes the political processes — in daily life, over a cup of coffee, on the terrace, in the corridor where history is in the making.
The film chronicles the political intrigues and power plays around South African Development Community (SADC) led negotiations to return Madagascar to constitutional normalcy.
The negotiations are tainted. President Ravalomanana – to his detriment — places utter faith in the Southern African Development Community (SADC); the body mandated by the international community to resolve the conflict.
He is forced to accept that he, the legal President, must remain in exile, while the coup leader; a 34-year-old former radio DJ turned politician, is appointed as President of the High Transitional Authority – seemingly at the behest of France, the former colonial power.
This violates the African Union’s own Charter which says that perpetrators of an unconstitutional change of government shall not participate in elections to restore the democratic order or hold any position of responsibility in the political institutions of their State.
Mr Ravalomanana is also coerced by SADC into agreeing that neither he nor the coup leader will be allowed to contest the Presidential election in 2012.
He suffers political gerrymandering, which includes the seizure of his passport. His wife, Mrs Lalao Ravalomanana, and his daughter-in-law are physically manhandled out of the country and forced onto an aircraft bound for Singapore. His son, Tojo, has to seek asylum in the South African Embassy after threats from the coup leader.
The film documents the inside story of a man who, with his wife, Lalao, his family and his team of counsellors, fights to return to his country.
‘Return of a President – after the coup in Madagascar’ is produced by Kamoli Films, Magic Hour Films and Mikmeyer Film.