On 16 December 2001 a presidential election took place in Madagascar. The FFKM - an equivalent of the National Council of Christian Churches - have long been working to ensure free and fair elections in Madagascar. The national Committee meeting of 1999 has firmly resolved that the Church must participate in the observation of elections. Many events have transpired that cause concern and possibly threaten the democracy and human rights of the country.
There were six candidates in this election, the leading two being Didier Ratsiraka (current President) and Marc Ravalomanana (Mayor of the capital city Antananarivo and lay vice-president of the Reformed Church). While the government refused to have any international observers, it did permit a national non-partisan consortium to monitor the elections at each voting station.
The consortium received financial backing from several donors from Europe, Japan and the USA. Whilst attempting to place election monitors at every voting station, it has been alleged that the government thwarted this by not making available the number and location of voting stations until after the election was over. It is understood that a discrepancy of over 1000 voting stations between Madagascar's High Constitutional Court's (HCC) count and the governments count still remains.
The Malagasy people began demonstrating peacefully in early January 2002 to ask the HCC to compare the voting records so that the truth could be found. On 7 January, soldiers assaulted a peaceful crowd of eighty thousand demonstrators with tear gas and grenades for two hours. While many were injured, the crowd did not disperse. Since that time, there have been no further acts of violence against demonstrators in the capital city.
When the HCC refused to compare the results, Ravalomanana called for a second nation-wide demonstration and strikes. The airport, banks and many businesses have closed to honour the opposition's request since the beginning of January.
During the demonstrations there have been over 500,000 people marching peacefully in the capital city every day to show their support for Ravalomanana and the democratic process. People all over Madagascar have been praying and peacefully demonstrating. Over the two months, millions of people all over the island have sacrificed and quit work to demonstrate their desire to have their votes fairly counted and to have a president who is elected by the majority of the people and not by voter fraud. Many of these people are poor, but they believe in their right to elect their leader regardless of economic or educational status. At the beginning of February, several international governments including France and the United States called for a second election based on the HCC's results.
From an article by Archbishop Remi Rabenirina