Madagascar: island even more isolated after coup
The crisis not only threatens to make the island's poverty worse, it might also lead to the extinction of rare lemur species.
Protests and tumult continue to disrupt this island nation following the forced resignation last week of President Marc Ravalomanana. The crisis has prompted foreign aid groups to freeze their spending and prompted many donors to flee the island, developments that could exacerbate already profound discontent in this impoverished country.Skip to next paragraph
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Andry Rajoelina, a youthful former disc jockey and mayor of Antananarivo, was sworn in Saturday as leader of a transitional government. Most diplomats, however, boycotted the event, saying Mr. Rajoelina took office illegally in a coup d'état.
Supporters of deposed president Ravalomanana have filled the streets in recent days, demanding his restoration. Many of the protesters are civil service workers or citizens who come from the country's tiny middle class.
"We want our father back," declared Raharinaivo Randrianatoandro, spokesman of the political party founded by Ravalomanana.
On Wednesday, amid growing international condemnation, the Army-backed leader offered to hold talks next week with allies of the deposed president. Ravalomanana's supporters have not yet indicated if they would participate, according to media reports.
The United States has condemned the change of government and suspended all assistance to the country. Last week, it ordered nonessential embassy employees to depart the island.
Benja Razafimahaleo, the new minister of budget and finance, is now suggesting that the country may not have enough funds to pay civil servants at the end of the month. Government employees are already working only half days.
With money running out and the stalemate lingering, there's growing pressure for the factions to work out a deal, says Madeleine Ramaholimiaso, member of a prominent civil society organization.
"Madagascar is facing a recurrent crisis, which can be avoided. We want to call upon political leaders form different parties to discuss on the matters," she says.
Until recently, the whereabouts of the deposed president were unknown. On Tuesday, he was reported to be in Swaziland meeting with that country's king. Swaziland is expected to hold a summit of regional nations next week to discuss possible sanctions against Madagascar. Last week, the African Union suspended Madagascar's membership in the organization.
Madagascar has been split by political infighting for years, but the crisis has worsened in recent months, with violent protests and at least 135 people killed since the start of the year.