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Anti-government acts subsided in capital but intensified elsewhere in Madagascar
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08:58, March 06, 2009

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Anti-government activities have been subsided here in the capital city but reportedly intensified elsewhere in the last two days over the Indian Ocean island country of Madagascar.

Beginning from Wednesday, the armed forces and the police have sealed off the main roads to and from the city center where the opposition had called mass meetings against the government led by president Marc Ravalomanana since last December.

According to a local website, topmada.com, on Thursday, two people, including an itinerant merchant, died while six others were injured on Wednesday when the armed troops moved to seal off the roads around the May 13 Square at the city center of Antananarivo.

More than 20 anti-government demonstrators were arrested in the clean-up action by the armed troops in the mountainous capital city on Wednesday, the website said.

At least two pro-opposition radio and television stations were shut down or interrupted by the government for their disinformation and one-sided broadcasting, as it was denounced by the government in a formal notice one day earlier.

These actions were taken following a statement by Ravalomanana at a government council meeting on Wednesday, saying that the armed forces would do their job and calling all Madagascans to inform them on the possible robbery and looting in the capital city.

The actions also coincided with the visit of an African Union delegation led by Ramtan Lamamra and Pascal Yao, who arrived here on a mediation mission on Tuesday, and the United Nations special envoy Tiebile Drame, who came on Wednesday in an effort to find a way out of the current political crisis that began last December.

Midi, a French-language daily, reported on Thursday that, during his meeting with Ravalomanana soon after his arrival, Lamamra asked the president to restore peace and security in the capital city within two weeks, and, if not, the scheduled AU Summit here in the coming July, would be held elsewhere.

Preparation work was interrupted due to political confrontation between Ravalomanana and the opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who proclaimed to be in charge of the national affairs early last month.

No reports about the whereabouts of Rajoelina since last Wednesday when the armed troops went to the streets to maintain order and security in the capital city.

In other areas of the country, the private Radio Don Bosco said, former president Albert Zafy went to Ihosy, a town 600 km south of here, and planned an anti-government demonstration Thursday afternoon.

Zafy went to Ihosy from Toliara, a coastal port city 950 km southwest of here, where he addressed an anti-government gathering on Wednesday, saying that residents in the area were deceived by Ravalomanana.

In Ambositra, a town 260 km south of the capital city almost all government officials fled the city, radio Don Bosco reported.

In Mahajanga, a coastal port city 608 km northeast of here, curfew has been continuing since Tuesday and the police had arrested 31 looters since Monday, according to a local website, sobika.com.

Madagascar has been undergoing a political crisis, the worst in years, triggered by the closure last December of the private television and radio station run by the deposed Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina.

The political confrontation turned to violent riots towards the end of last January, when a mass turmoil broke out in Antananarivo and elsewhere over the island country, killing dozens of people.


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