Madagascar's main opposition leader Andry Rajoelina is urging his supporters to take over government ministries today (Thursday) after his previous attempts were foiled by government security agents. But Rajoelina, who has already named a parallel transitional government, has vowed to wrest control of the country from President Marc Ravalomana's government. Meanwhile negotiations under the auspices of the Malagasy clergy have failed to resolve the ongoing political crisis, which some say is undermining the country's booming tourism industry. Hadra Ratsimbazafy is a Malagasy journalist. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that there seem to be two competing centers of power between the opposition leader and President Ravalomanana's government.
"So today (Thursday) at nine o'clock the mayor and his transitional team will try to take over the various ministries and to put in place the transitional government and also to put in place the ministers that the opposition leader had named. The opposition had been trying that since Monday, but they didn't succeed because the army was there, which prevented them from entering the ministries compound," Ratsimbazafy pointed out.
He said there are ongoing negotiations between the opposition and the military to end the political impasse.
"For three days now there have been negotiations between the army and the transitional government, but there were no positive results. Fortunately, now there is violence despite the massive protests although many people are not sure about when the ongoing political crisis would end," he said.
The opposition leader is also calling on the wives and children of the military to be part of today's takeover saying it would prevent the security agents from gunning down protesters.
Ratsimbazafy said the opposition's call for military families to participate in today's protest is to ensure the safety of ordinary civilians.
"The wives and children of the military have pledged their support for the protest saying they are with the people. So the military families said that to prevent the military from killing ordinary people they would be part of the protest today so if unfortunately the military begin killing people there is a possibility that their families would also be killed. So, this is another strategy of the opposition leader Andry Rajoelina and the transitional government to prevent the army from killing people," Ratsimbazafy noted.
He said ongoing negotiations between the government and the opposition have failed to yield any positive results.
"Since Monday, the opposition and the government have been holding talks with the Council of Malagasy Christian Churches but there were no results. So, now the army has decided to take up its responsibility to ensure that there is peace and security in Madagascar," he said.
Ratsimbazafy said the Council of Malagasy Christian Churches, which organized the peace negotiations between the government and the opposition has been quiet about divulging any information to the public.
"They didn't say anything to the public and kept everything secret although the journalists were asking more questions to find out what was going on. The only thing they said was that the dialogue will continue and hope that things will get better in Madagascar," Ratsimbazafy pointed out.
Some political analysts say the ongoing political crisis has left the once-booming tourism industry facing ruin as tour operators turn their backs on what many described as the Indian Ocean's paradise.
Several hotels in the capital, Antananarivo are reportedly empty after anti-government protests erupted last month, leaving around 100 people dead, after the city's sacked mayor accused President Marc Ravalomanana of starving his people.
Antananarivo's deposed mayor Andry Rajoelina, has declared himself in charge of the country's affairs, named a parallel government and organized sit-ins in an attempt to install his ministerial appointees. He has vowed to continue the protest until embattled President Ravalomanana resigns. But the president has vowed to remain in power until his constitutional mandate ends in 2011.