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Madagascans Demand End to Feud between President and Mayor 


The embattled mayor of Madagascar's capital Antananarivo is expected to meet with residents of some provinces today ahead of unveiling what he describes as a transition government to take over from President Marc Ravalomanana. This follows Mayor Andry Rajoelina's petition to the constitutional court seeking President Ravalomanana's removal from office. It was filed after he accused the president of violating the constitution and laws of the country. But the government rejected the mayor's accusation and instead announced his removal yesterday after naming a commission to run the city. Madagascan journalist Hadra Ratsimbazafy tells reporter Peter Clottey that Madagascans are demanding an end to the feud between the president and the mayor.

"Today, the mayor of Antananarivo decided to visit the other provinces. So today, he will meet the population in some of the provinces, and while there he will meet the population and sensitize them about problems in the country and about the new government of transition. So today there wouldn't be a meeting in Antananarivo. But the next meeting for the population here in Antananarivo would be next Saturday," Ratsimbazafy said.

Rajoelina recently proclaimed himself in charge of the Madagascar after accusing President Marc Ravalomanana and his government of abandoning their duties towards the population. On Monday, he handed a petition to the Constitutional Court seeking the president's removal. Ratsimbazafy said the mayor rejects that he has been removed after the government set up a presidential commission to manage the affairs of Antananarivo.

"There is no more a mayor of Antananarivo, but instead of a mayor of Antananarivo, the government put in his place, the president of a special delegation (president de la delegation special). So the conflict continues and the mayor Andry Rajoelina didn't accept that, and said he will also put in place another president of the special delegation who would manage the city of Antananarivo. So maybe he (Rajoelina) would set up his commission on Saturday," he said.

Ratsimbazafy said President Ravalomanana has so far been quiet after the mayor petitioned the senate and the parliament seeking his removal from office as president.

"He has not said anything on television since yesterday, but he has put in place the president of the delegation. That is, a special delegation for Antananarivo," Ratsimbazafy pointed out.

He said majority of Madagascans are demanding an immediate end to the feud between President Ravalomanana and Mayor Rajoelina.

"The population is waiting for the end of this conflict because it is hurting the Malagasy economy. And they are hoping that the conflict ends quickly because there are problems with the economy and about security. So the population is demanding an end to the conflict," he said.

Ratsimbazafy said some people believe that the mayor's petition to both the senate and parliament seeking the removal of the president will not succeed.

"Since yesterday that the petition was sent to them (senate and parliament), they have said nothing. So they received the letter from the mayor and his demands to both the senate and the national assembly and also, the Higher Court of the Constitution received the letter. But they did not give an answer. The population is sure that they will refuse the mayor's demand," Ratsimbazafy noted.

He said critics of the president are demanding his resignation, although his supporters are urging him to stay to serve his remaining years in office.

"The population is divided. There are some who want that Marc Ravalomanana is always there, and then to wait for the next election. And there is the other side who want him to move out," he said.

Some constitutional attorneys say only the country's senate and parliament can initiate an impeachment process. President Ravalomanana holds majorities in both the senate and parliament and is expected to survive any impeachment process tabled by Rajoelina.

Madagascar's political stalemate began in December after President Ravalomanana ordered a closing of the private television and radio station owned by Mayor Rajoelina. On several occasions, Rajoelina has called for the overthrow of a Ravalomanana-led Madagascan government.


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