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rioters in Antananarivo facing soldiers
Photo No. : P090217-1

the masses and the army face to face
Photo No. : P090217-2

the looting mob
Photo No. : P090217-3

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February 17, 2009

[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] Riots in Madagascar former ZOMA precints in Antananarivo.
Police in Madagascar fired warning shots to disperse thousands of anti-government demonstrators taking part in a rally in the capital Antananarivo after a tense standoff with security forces .
Demonstrations following a political dispute between the government of Marc Ravalomanana and a movement led by Andry Rajoelina the Antananarivo Mayor started in December 2008 due to the . Tensions increased and resulted in violent protests on 26-27 January, countrywide, and again on 7 February 2009, this time limited to the capital, Antananarivo, and to a lesser extent in other locations. Economic interests have been targeted, and Ministry of Health (MoH) official figures indicate that 82 fatalities and 321 injured were registered in hospitals in main towns after the January incidents, mostly resulting from fires and stampedes. MoH also indicates that the 7 February demonstration in the capital resulted in 28 deaths and 237 wounded, predominantly caused by firearms. Information about patients that may have been treated outside main hospitals is not included in the MoH statistics.

The UN Secretary General expressed his concern on the situation. International partners, including the UN SG Special Envoy, the AU, France and others are encouraging the parties to discuss and find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Both parties have accepted the UNSG as facilitator to the dialogue. The situation is unpredictable as the parties continue to stand on their positions and other demonstrations are taking place on an almost daily basis.

In this period, basic services have been temporarily disrupted including schools, garbage collection, etc. although hospitals remained open and functional throughout the crisis. As of today, all local radio stations are functioning again in the capital. National TV and radio coverage has resumed, countrywide, although some regions still experiencing technical difficulties. All international and domestic airports, as well as ports, are operational. Schools are open and markets functioning. Traffic is feigningly normal, except in areas close to locations where demonstrations take place. Police, gendarmerie and the army continue patrolling and presence during the protests. A countrywide curfew has been imposed.

The impact of the current social unrest is yet to be evaluated in full, although it is understood that because of the already fragile economic and social situation the most vulnerable are likely to be the ones paying the highest price. It is also acknowledged that the economic impact of the crisis could result in further rise in unemployment, living costs and shortage of basic food supplies.

The deadly street fighting supergiants led by the President of Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana on the one hand and Andry Rajoelina the destituted Mayor of Antananarivo on the other, have not yet found a common reliable international referee. Resulting to a no limit the volume of the flow of innocent blood to pay for the sins of a crumbling facade of democracy in search of healing and restoration . Compassion, tolerance and the Malagasy Fihavanana have been trampled and buried. The purified bones of the ancestors of Ignorance, tribalism, xenophobia are popping their bruised heads and seeking more preys and scape goats to soothe their thirst. The Lamentations of Jeremiah the prophet and the wailing songs of the mourners are heard once again and again in the streets.

Psalm 137.

Tompo O ! Mamindrafo aminay.