Monday, February 9, 2009

Turmoil continues as Protesters Injured in Madagascar

Deadly gunfire has left at least 28 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

With security forces opening fire on anti-government protesters in Madagascar's capital city this past weekend, hospitals are filled with wounded survivors. Media claiming (local) that it is the worst bloodbaths since this country's independence in 1960.

Another brutal chapter in a saga of power struggles, violent disputes and political battles which plague this nation.

The world's fourth-biggest island, a natural habitat and home to creatures found nowhere else in the world, this place called paradise by tourists is in turmoil again.

On one side is a 59-year-old President, Marc Ravalomanana, owns the biggest domestic business empire in the country, plus a monopoly on diary and oil products with a chain of radio and television stations.

He won the 2001 presidential election against Didier Ratsiraka, which set off a violent campaign against his victor.

This seems to have left the country divided, with two governments and two capitals. That conflict did not end until 2002.

With this recent trouble we have Andry Rajoelina, the 34-year-old former mayor of Tananarive, the national capital, a charismatic man, who also owns a private television station and has constantly maintained the government is run as a dictatorship.

Since becoming mayor in 2007, he has been blatant with his attacks on the President, Marc Ravalomana. When Rajoelina’s TV station was taken off the air for broadcasting an interview with Mr. Ratsiraka, he then accused the government of suppressing free speech.

For months, Mr. Rajoelina, campaigns suggest the President is exploiting popular discontent and is a thief and a tyrant. After the clashes turned violent, Mr. Rajoelina, has declared himself the ruler of Madagascar.

Mr. Ravalomanana, retaliated by dismissing Mr. Rajoelina as position as mayor, which just escalated his fury and another mayor was appointed.

Madagascar being a very poor country but the richest in minerals and natural resources has always had the eye of Canadian investors seeking their fortune.

Canada's top mining company, Sherritt International has huge investments in this island. The Toronto-based company owns 40 per cent of the $3.3-billion Ambatovy nickel mine in Madagascar.

Niko Resources Ltd., a Calgary-based Canadian company, is also mounting offshore oil and gas fields in Madagascar.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090209.wmadagascar09/BNStory/International/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090209.wmadagascar09

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