Madagascar security forces thwart protests

Hundreds of security forces blocked roads in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, on Thursday to thwart a second day of attempts by opposition supporters to hold city protests.

Security forces stopped traffic entering the city centre and prevented a handful of protesters from gathering at a park where they have previously held rallies.

President Marc Ravalomanana vowed on Wednesday to bring stability back to the country, which has been rocked by anti-government protests called by his main political rival, Andry Rajoelina.

Two people were shot dead on Wednesday as police dispersed an opposition rally in a central Madagascar town, police spokesperson Lala Rakotonirina said “Two people were shot dead in Ambositra,” he said. “Three security officers and six protesters were wounded.” At least 100 people have been killed since political unrest erupted on January 26.

Rajoelina, sacked last month as the Antananarivo mayor, accuses the president of running a dictatorship while his people starve.

He has become undisputed leader of Madagascar’s opposition, building support on widespread popular grievances over poverty and violations of civil liberties.

Last weekend, he called for a fresh general strike, but the move has received little support.

The 34-year-old Rajoelina last week walked out on talks with Ravalomanana, accusing his rival of playing down grievances, and pledged to revert to mass street action.—Sapa-AFP

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