Madagascar president accuses mayor of stirring up 'revolt'

Nampidirin'i radotiana | 26 Jan, 2009

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Marc Ravalomanana

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Madagascar president accuses mayor of stirring up 'revolt'

IVATO, Madagascar (AFP) — Madagascar's President Marc Ravalomanana on Sunday accused a maverick mayor of stirring up a "revolt" after he branded the regime a dictatorship and called for a general strike.

A number of the mayor's supporters also taunted Ravalomanana Sunday as the president's motorcade traveled from the airport to his home on the Indian Ocean island.

An AFP journalist reported that at least two vehicles that were part of the motorcade had broken windows, but it was unclear how the damage occurred.

"The call for revolt and civil disobedience ... corresponds to a coup d'etat," a statement from the president said, adding that it "tramples on the values of the constitution and the republic's institutions."

The president has "given firm instructions to the government to imperatively reestabish order and social peace, in accordance with the constitution," the statement added, while asking the population to remain calm.

Ravalomanana, who cut short a trip to South Africa after the capital city's mayor Andry Rajoelina called for the strike during a Saturday rally attended by more than 20,000 supporters, earlier asked for public order.

"I have asked the prime minister to ensure order and security (across) the country," said Ravalomanana. He did not elaborate on the measures to be taken.

Thousands greeted the president at the airport when he arrived back home on Sunday. A number of Rajoelina's supporters were among the crowds gathered along the roads after the president's motorcade left the airport and screamed slogans in support of the mayor.

Vocal Antananarivo mayor Rajoelina, who has recently become critical of the government, told the gathering on Saturday that "leaders who do not care about the people should not be there," referring to the regime.

The rally was held despite being declared illegal by police.

Ravalomanana said: "I do not agree with those who turned out (for the rally). Madagascar is a country with laws. This is being disloyal.

"I urge all Madagascans to think again. The goal is to move the country forward," he said at a press conference at the airport.

Rajoelina, 34, ran against Ravalomanana's party as an independent candidate in municipal elections in 2007 and since taking office has grown into the regime's most vocal opponent.

Rajoelina has repeatedly condemned what he says are shrinking freedoms in Madagascar and also fiercely criticised a massive project to lease vast swathes of farmland to South Korean industrial giant Daewoo.

The tug-of-war between the Antananarivo mayor and the president intensified on December 13 when the government closed down Rajoelina's television network "Viva" after it broadcast an interview with former president Didier Ratsiraka.

1 Hevitra & 0 Verindrohy (trackback) amin\'ny "Madagascar president accuses mayor of stirring up 'revolt'"

  1. dia efa vaky rano isika izany izao fa dia hitam-poko hitam-pirenena ny manjo antsika vahoaka malagasy ao Nampidirin'i sipagasy 26 Jan 2009, 11:57