Death toll rises in Madagascar unrest


In a move by the government of Madagascar to retake control of its buildings, eight people are believed to have been shot dead when security forces opened fire on opposition supporters.

This operation, which government sources said, was a joint army and police force operation where shots were fired in the air and was a desperate attempt to regain control of four ministerial buildings, which the opposition supporters had managed to occupy in their campaign to topple President Marc Ravalomanana.

More than 125 people are reported to have been killed so far since opposition protests calling for the resignation of Malagasy President Ravalomanana were launched. The people of Madagascar are claiming that they are receiving less attention from President Ravalomanana, who was re-elected for a second five-year term in 2006.

International mediators have been engaged in several discussions with both the ruling party and the opposition, but with little effect outside the meeting rooms.

Supporters of the sacked mayor of Antananarivo and opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina, have continued their campaign and even tried to install their own people to replace Mr. Ravalomanana’s government.

The United Nations has been leading the mediation talks, with support from the African Union, Southern African Development Community, among others.

Mr. Jeremie Bonnelame, the chairman of the Seychelles Constitutional Appointments Authority and a former secretary general of the Indian Ocean Commission is also in Madagascar to appeal to the two leaders for peace and dialogue.

Latest violence in Madagascar has crippled the country’s tourism. Reports have also pointed out at a sharp decline in business confidence in the island nation.