Madagascar’s army chief has given the country’s feuding leaders three days to sort out the chaotic state of the nation. The ultimatum comes on the same day the Malgasy defence minister resigned after just a month in the job. Faced with a mutiny by some soldiers, he hinted he had been pressured into quitting.
Some 135 people have been killed and the island’s economy devastated by a political tug-of-war between the president and the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. On a day of drama, President Marc Ravalomanana admitted in a television and radio address that he had made mistakes, was ready to listen to the people and would find a solution. As for his opponent, Andry Rajoelina, he is under United Nations protection in an unknown location. He had been staying at the French embassy but pro-government protestors tracked him down and started to throw stones at the building. Rajoelina has led accusations that the president is a dictator who has failed to tackle poverty. The government has brushed him off as a troublemaker. A government crackdown on protests met with widespread international condemnation when the military opened fire at a rally in February, killing 28 people. Now the army has threatened to intervene without bias against either side if the crisis is not solved by the weekend.