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Last governmental supporters rally around presidential palace

Video by Cyril VANIER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-15

Madagascar's opposition claims it is close to toppling President Marc Ravalomanana; who in turn called on the poverty-stricken population to protect the presidential palace. But only a few hundred have rallied to the weakened president's call.

In Madagascar, the opposition is increasingly claiming control over the country’s institutions. President Marc Ravalomanana’s grasp on power is looking shaky: the crowd of a few hundred supporters gathered around his palace appears to be his last line of defence.


Although opposition leader and former mayor Andry Rajoelina is in hiding, his movement appears to be gaining strength every day.


His allies believe that the government will soon be pressured out of power, clearing the way for them to run the country. It’s not legal but it has worked in the past.


"In 1991, in 2002 and right now, the solution to the crisis has always been outside the constitution. It’s difficult for the international community to understand that the people decide,”  explains Augustine Andriamananoro, spokesperson for Andry Rajoelina.


Earlier, national radio warned that the president might be forcibly removed from power and called on supporters to help protect him.


Following his call, several hundred people gathered in front of the presidential palace. Despite the enthusiasm of those present, it was hardly a show of mass popular support.


 “We’re here to defend our president. He was democratically elected in 2006, with 54% of the vote,” says one supporter. “He's our president, we're allowed to watch what's going on...this is the news," adds another.


Meanwhile, the power struggle between the government and the opposition continues. Government loyalists are keen to show the president still has support, but outside the immediate vicinity of the presidential palace, it is the opposition, not them, that runs the streets.



Date created : 2009-03-13