One dead, 17 harmed amid opposition protests in Madagascar

People carry a man shot in the abdomen during clashes with police at an opposition protest against new election laws in Madagascar
People carry a man shot in the abdomen during clashes with police at an opposition protest against new election laws in Madagascar

One was shot dead, while 17 others were injured during opposition demonstrations on Saturday in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, Madagascar’s Prime minister Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana said.

However, one of the leaders the demonstration, Hanitra Razafimanantsoa, a parliament member supporting former president Marc Ravalomanana, said that four were killed, including two demonstrators shot dead and two babies suffocated by tear gas at the children hospital nearby the scene.

Some 73 parliament members, who opposed to the adoption of electoral law at the parliament, planned to report to their followers a complaint about this electoral law at the May 13 square, a famous venue where opposition overthrew the power in 1972, 1991, 2002 and 2009.

However, the government banned this demonstration. A Xinhua reporter who was on spot saw that the armed forces sealed off the May 13 square, threw tear gas to demonstrators who already filled all roads to square.

Demonstrators resisted the tear gas and pushed the armed forces by throwing stones. The armed troops gave up and let thousands of demonstrators join the May 13 square.

Three hours after, the armed forces came back to May 13 square, but this time they secured the demonstrators to avoid smudge.

During the clash in the morning, Xinhua reporter saw one of the demonstrators shot dead on spot, another was seriously injured after he was hit by bullet on the head, and others were injured of tear gas firing.

Angry demonstrators set a police 4×4 pick-up on fire which remained at May 13 square.

Some people also tried to rob the mobile phone stores owned by a parliament member who support Madagascar’s president Hery Rajaonarimamianina but fortunately the store owner already emptied it before the demonstration.

Late Saturday, Razafimanantsoa said the demonstration will continue on Sunday with funeral ritual of the four people killed during the demonstration.

“The demonstration will continue again on Monday to fight against corruption, we will continue it until the dismissal of president Hery Rajaonarimampianina,” Razafimanantsoa said asking former president Marc Ravalomanana, former transition president Andry Rajoelina, the church council, all opposition parties in the country, the students and public servants to join on Monday.
President Rajaonarimampianina is abroad since Thursday night, according to the presidency.

Prime Minister Solonandrasana called for dialog with opposition and appeasement from the people. “Do not make violence as durable solution for our country. This is not good for Madagascar.”

The president of the senate Rivo Rakotovo, who is the president of ruling party Hery Vaovaon’i Madagasikara (HVM) or New Force of Madagascar, also urged appeasement. He said that only dialog between politicians can resolve the problem. “Road demonstration is not for Madagascar which is still weak on economy,” he said.

These 73 parliament members include those who support former president Marc Ravalomanana, those who supported the former transition president Andry Rajoelina, and other parliament members who opposed to the current regime.

This is the fifth cyclical political crisis in Madagascar since its independence in 1960 after that of 1972, 1991, 2002, and 2009.

The political crisis in Madagascar in 2009 saw Rajoelina opposing Ravalomanana, with many of their followers killed. But 9 years later, Ravalomanana and Rajoelina joined forces to overthrow Rajaonarimampianina, who was the candidate supported by Rajoelina in 2013.

By Eric Laperozy and Holitiana Randrianasolo

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