By John Ikani
Madagascar’s President, Andry Rajoelina, has faced backlash following revelations that he holds dual French nationality, raising concerns as the law stipulates that acquiring foreign citizenship results in the loss of Malagasy nationality.
Critics have accused Rajoelina of lacking transparency after leaked documents on social media exposed his naturalization by decree in November 2014, authorized by then-French prime minister Manuel Valls.
Calls for clarification have been made as a copy of the decree, also signed by the interior minister and published in the Official Journal, circulated online.
Hajo Andrianainarivelo, the leader of the opposition party Malagasy Miara Miainga, emphasized that “the functions of a president of the republic can only fall to a citizen of Malagasy nationality,” referring to article 46 of Madagascar’s constitution.
The opposition party urged Rajoelina to address the issue, expressing their concern for the sovereignty of the Malagasy people who feel betrayed.
Rivo Rakotovao, head of the HVM party, strongly criticized the President, denouncing his actions as “treason” and a “moral fault.”
Rakotovao highlighted the legal predicament but was particularly troubled by Rajoelina’s dishonesty. “He became French and, in doing so, he pledged allegiance to another country. What credibility does he have to defend Madagascar?” he questioned.
Responding to the accusations, the President’s chief of staff, Romy Voos Andrianarisoa, dismissed the leaked documents as a politically motivated act. Andrianarisoa pointed out that Rajoelina’s parents are both Malagasy, making him inherently Malagasy.
“He is Malagasy,” Andrianarisoa emphasized. “The President is French through his great-grandfather, so according to common law, a significant number of Malagasy people hold dual citizenship and maintain a harmonious balance with their political positions.”
Andrianarisoa also contested the notion that acquiring foreign nationality immediately leads to the loss of Malagasy nationality, clarifying that such loss must be formally acknowledged by an authoritative body.
Reports suggest that Rajoelina was granted French nationality as a result of his temporary withdrawal from the country’s political crisis in 2013, though the details surrounding this arrangement remain unclear.