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At the time of the re-opening of the Parliamentary Chambers in 1896, the French government distributed a book of documents entitled “The Yellow Book” on the affairs of Madagascar and announced two months earlier.
It contains a series of published documents – not less than 71 – which “prove the wisdom and continuity of our policy in the island since 1885, while at the same time justifying the Ribot Cabinet some rather facile reproaches Addressed himself to having sacrificed French interests at the conclusion of the first Treaty of Antananarivo, “after the Franco-Merina war of 1883-1885.
One of the first documents contains the instructions given by Freycinet to Le Myre de Vilers, when he was appointed resident general in 1886. They may be summed up in a few words: to refrain from interference in the internal affairs of the ” island; To avoid all that might unnecessarily shade the Merina; To lead this people by wise counsels in the way of progress; And do nothing to nourish hostilities.
However, the “Yellow Book” remains silent on the subsequent administration of Le Myre de Vilers.
The following documents immediately jump into the year 1891, at the time of the difficulties raised by the question of exequatur to be granted in particular to Messrs. Tappenbeck, the German consul, and Campbell, his counterpart from the United States. “The Prime Minister (Rainilaiarivony) was willing to receive their request from the hand of our resident general, but he obstinately refused to answer through him.”
Then there is an interval of two years, but the question of exequatur is still not settled neither by Bompard nor by Lacoste, successors of Le Myre de Vilers. In any case, the French feel threatened with much more serious dangers. “The Prime Minister makes large orders of arms in Europe and threatens to take over the telegraph line that runs between Tananarive and Tamatave; He wants to isolate us in the interior of the island. “
Larrouy reproached the Prime Minister and asked for explanations. Rainilaiarivony replied that the aim of the armaments was “to repress the banditry of the Fahavales”. He adds, moreover, that he has the right to command the weapons that suit him and eventually refuse any answer to the question of the resident general.
“War became inevitable. The French Government deems it sufficient to reinforce the garrison of Diego-Suarez, and to watch closely the coasts to prevent any landing of arms, and thus to avoid war. However, these measures have no influence on the Hova government’s provisions. The latter persisted in considering “the prospect of an energetic action by France in Madagascar as far removed and unlikely”.
Imagining the worst, Rainilaiarivony “hoped that, thanks to his armaments and also to the difficulties which prevented the march of a European army on Antananarivo, he might succeed in defeating our efforts and in any case Weary them. “
In view of these provisions, the Dupuy cabinet no longer hesitated. To facilitate the movement of the French residents of the capital, he sent an extraordinary mission, the aim of which was to “amuse” the Merina and avoid any offensive movement on their part until the French reached the coast.
Entrusted to Le Myre de Vilers, the mission has as instructions to apply “the only solution that can prevent the return of any conflict”. They are summarized as follows:
“To reinforce, in the proportion which we consider to be appropriate, the strength of the detachment
Stationed in the capital; If necessary, be able to send into the interior of the island or land on the coasts sufficient forces to prevent or repress the disorders which our compatriots might suffer in their persons or in their property.
The instructions also state that if the Malagasy government shirks and drags the discussions, Le Myre de Vilers will send an ultimatum to the Prime Minister to give his answer within a specified time; His silence will be regarded as an “inadmissibility”.