Where: Antananarivo, Madagascar
March 17, 2009 : President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar stepped down as troops seized control of his offices and the presidential residence. Mr. Andry Rajoelina declared himself president with the support of military forces. He rejected Mr Ravalomanana’s offer of a referendum to solve the crisis and called for his arrest. He also announced that there would be a new constitution and elections in the next 24 months.
Navy admiral Hyppolite Ramaroson confirmed that the military was backing Mr. Rajoelina as ‘president of the high transitional authority’. Mr. Rajoelina, a former disc jockey, was sacked as mayor of the capital city Antananarivo in February. As mayor, he had organised protests against rising food prices and government corruption. Thousands of people took to the streets at the time and engaged in violent conflict with government forces.
The mood among the country’s people was one of relief at the absence of bloodshed during recent developments. However, the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community condemned the overthrow of an elected leader. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern and appealed for a “smooth transition”.
During Mr. Ravalomanana’s second term in office the economy opened up to foreign investment. However, 70 per cent of the 20 million population still lives on less than US $1 a day. Unrest in the country over the past two months has had a negative effect on tourism. Revenue from that sector, especially eco-tourism, with rainforests and unique mammal species as the major attractions, earns $800 million every year for the island nation.
Related Links – If you want to know more about Madagascar:
Madagascar: Where is it? Click here to see it on the map
Madagascar: Country profile
Madagascar: Latest news about Madagascar
Madagascar: Images from Madagascar