Fears of renewed violence grow in Madagascar, as the political power struggle heats up.
The opposition says it has assumed presidential authority and will hold elections within two years. Its leader Andry Rajoelina has appeared at a rally in the capital, Antananarivo, in front of thousands of supporters. It was his first appearance since he went into hiding more than a week ago to evade arrest. Pro-government supporters are also expected to gather nearby. There are growing calls for the President Marc Ravalomanana to resign. Among them, dissident troops, who say they have moved tanks into the capital. But a spokesman has said they have no plans to launch a coup d’etat nor will they attack the presidential palace, as has been rumoured. Instead they say they are maintaining order until the rival politicians resolve their differences. More than 135 people have been killed since the the political crisis began in January. Madagascar’s tourist industry, worth 300-billion euros per year, has been brought to its knees. The UN has called for dialogue to resume. But a church-led conference was postponed earlier this week and there has been no attempt since, to return to the negotiating table.