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Ravalomanana Supporters Vow to Continue Madagascar Protest


The ongoing political crisis in Madagascar took another dramatic turn after supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana vowed Monday to continue protesting until the transitional government hands over power. The supporters are demanding the return of the former president, saying the new transitional government should wait until his terms expires. This follows a communiqué signed by the navy giving newly installed President Andry Rajoelina an ultimatum to hand over power within one week. Former President Ravalomanana was forced to resign after daily opposition-led protests left scores of Malagasies dead. Washington as well as the international community has refused to recognize Rajoelina as Madagascar's president. Mialy Randriamampianina is a Malagasy journalist. She tells reporter Peter Clottey that newly installed President Rajoelina seems to be enjoying the support of most Malagasies.

"The partisans supporting former president Marc Ravalomanana, who are now protesting against the transitional government led by former opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, are not only asking for Ravalomanana to return as president, but also asking for a return to democracy. They said that Andry Rajoelina has not been elected by the Malagasy people so he shouldn't be the president of Madagascar, and so that is why they are protesting," Randriamampianina pointed out.

She said supporters of the former president are demonstrating just like the opposition supporters protested that led to the resignation of the former president.

"Frankly speaking, what they are doing is just the same as Andry Rajoelina and all of his supporters did before. But the difference is that the former government didn't allow them (opposition supporters) to go ahead with their protests. And the former government used the army to prevent them from going ahead with their protest and some people were killed as a result of that. But what is happening which is different is that the new government wants them to be calm and is allowing them to protest, but made sure that there were no violence or burglaries like in the past, and they are actually free to speak," she said.

Randriamampianina said some Malagasies feel the new transitional government is allowing freedom of speech and association enshrined in the country's constitution.

"If the former government had allowed the protesters to go ahead with their march, it would have died a natural death. You know, the opposition protest gained maxim support after people felt Ravalomanana was sitting on their freedom of speech and association when he ordered soldiers to stop them from expressing their frustrations through protest marches. If the former government had allowed them to protest without harassment, things would have been different. But the government didn't allow them to do that. So as the government stopped them from protesting, then the opposition leader Andry Rajoelina got more and more people to join in the protests," Randriamampianina noted.

She said although the new transitional government is enjoying support from the majority of Malagasies, it still faces stiff opposition from supporters of the former president.

"The opinion is really divided among the Malagasy people, but the fact is that it is something new for the Malagasy government to have something like what we are having now, where the president resigns and the opposition forms a transitional government promising to organize elections within 24 months," she said.

Randriamampianina said the new transitional government is being hailed after promising to have an all inclusive government calling upon people from all political persuasions top join the opposition led government.

"What Andry Rajoelina wants to do is to recreate the political unity in Madagascar. What he wants to do is to bring together all the political actors all over Madagascar to take part in this government. So it is something which is very new and many Malagasies are appreciative of the move. But there are still some divided opinions, and there are some skeptics who do not trust Andry Rajoelina's government about what he is going to do if he would not be ruling the country in some time to come," Randriamampianina pointed out.

On Monday, thousands of supporters of former President Ravalomanana rallied for the first for what they described as daily protests against the army-backed former opposition leader Rajoelina's power grab.

The demonstrators plan to continue marching at the same May 13 Square, where supporters of the former opposition leader held months of daily protests that forced Ravalomanana to resign, handing over power to the military. The military refused to take over the reins of government, paving the way for opposition leader Rajoelina to take over the reins of government.

Meanwhile, troops from the navy ordered new transitional President Rajoelina to leave his power within seven days from March 18, when the High Constitutional Court (HCC) legalized him as Madagascar's president. In a communiqué over the weekend, the soldiers, based-at Invato, a district of the capital city, condemned what they described as recent acts of vandalism perpetrated by the military CAPSAT (Army Corps of Personnel and Administrative and Technical Services),who revolted against former President Marc Ravalomanana two weeks ago.

The barracks-based naval soldiers at Invato declared that the armed forces could never be divided by politics. They claimed that their CAPSAT colleagues had been paid hundreds of millions of Ariaries, the Madagascan currency, by Andry Rajoelina, saying that evidence was irrefutable. They demanded trials and punishment by martial law to those rebellious and uncontrollable military troops.

The naval soldiers propose holding a national conference as soon as possible and they have asked Rajoelina to leave power unconditionally within one week. They called on the international community not to interfere in affairs which they claim involve only Madagascans. The naval troops declared that they are ready and available to protect the nation by force, if necessary.

The ongoing political crisis in Madagascar took another dramatic turn after supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana vowed Monday to continue protesting until the transitional government hands over power. The supporters are demanding the return of the former president, saying the new transitional government should wait until his terms expires. This follows a communiqué signed by the navy giving newly installed President Andry Rajoelina an ultimatum to hand over power within one week. Former President Ravalomanana was forced to resign after daily opposition-led protests left scores of Malagasies dead. Washington as well as the international community has refused to recognize Rajoelina as Madagascar's president.

Mialy Randriamampianina is a Malagasy journalist. She tells reporter Peter Clottey that newly installed President Rajoelina seems to be enjoying the support of most Malagasies.

"The partisans supporting former president Marc Ravalomanana, who are now protesting against the transitional government led by former opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, are not only asking for Ravalomanana to return as president, but also asking for a return to democracy. They said that Andry Rajoelina has not been elected by the Malagasy people so he shouldn't be the president of Madagascar, and so that is why they are protesting," Randriamampianina pointed out.

She said supporters of the former president are demonstrating just like the opposition supporters protested that led to the resignation of the former president.

"Frankly speaking, what they are doing is just the same as Andry Rajoelina and all of his supporters did before. But the difference is that the former government didn't allow them (opposition supporters) to go ahead with their protests. And the former government used the army to prevent them from going ahead with their protest and some people were killed as a result of that. But what is happening which is different is that the new government wants them to be calm and is allowing them to protest, but made sure that there were no violence or burglaries like in the past, and they are actually free to speak," she said.

Randriamampianina said some Malagasies feel the new transitional government is allowing freedom of speech and association enshrined in the country's constitution.

"If the former government had allowed the protesters to go ahead with their march, it would have died a natural death. You know, the opposition protest gained maxim support after people felt Ravalomanana was sitting on their freedom of speech and association when he ordered soldiers to stop them from expressing their frustrations through protest marches. If the former government had allowed them to protest without harassment, things would have been different. But the government didn't allow them to do that. So as the government stopped them from protesting, then the opposition leader Andry Rajoelina got more and more people to join in the protests," Randriamampianina noted.

She said although the new transitional government is enjoying support from the majority of Malagasies, it still faces stiff opposition from supporters of the former president.

"The opinion is really divided among the Malagasy people, but the fact is that it is something new for the Malagasy government to have something like what we are having now, where the president resigns and the opposition forms a transitional government promising to organize elections within 24 months," she said.

Randriamampianina said the new transitional government is being hailed after promising to have an all inclusive government calling upon people from all political persuasions top join the opposition led government.

"What Andry Rajoelina wants to do is to recreate the political unity in Madagascar. What he wants to do is to bring together all the political actors all over Madagascar to take part in this government. So it is something which is very new and many Malagasies are appreciative of the move. But there are still some divided opinions, and there are some skeptics who do not trust Andry Rajoelina's government about what he is going to do if he would not be ruling the country in some time to come," Randriamampianina pointed out.

On Monday, thousands of supporters of former President Ravalomanana rallied for the first for what they described as daily protests against the army-backed former opposition leader Rajoelina's power grab.

The demonstrators plan to continue marching at the same May 13 Square, where supporters of the former opposition leader held months of daily protests that forced Ravalomanana to resign, handing over power to the military. The military refused to take over the reins of government, paving the way for opposition leader Rajoelina to take over the reins of government.

Meanwhile, troops from the navy ordered new transitional President Rajoelina to leave his power within seven days from March 18, when the High Constitutional Court (HCC) legalized him as Madagascar's president. In a communiqué over the weekend, the soldiers, based-at Invato, a district of the capital city, condemned what they described as recent acts of vandalism perpetrated by the military CAPSAT (Army Corps of Personnel and Administrative and Technical Services),who revolted against former President Marc Ravalomanana two weeks ago.

The barracks-based naval soldiers at Invato declared that the armed forces could never be divided by politics. They claimed that their CAPSAT colleagues had been paid hundreds of millions of Ariaries, the Madagascan currency, by Andry Rajoelina, saying that evidence was irrefutable. They demanded trials and punishment by martial law to those rebellious and uncontrollable military troops.

The naval soldiers propose holding a national conference as soon as possible and they have asked Rajoelina to leave power unconditionally within one week. They called on the international community not to interfere in affairs which they claim involve only Madagascans. The naval troops declared that they are ready and available to protect the nation by force, if necessary.

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