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Madagascar: Negotiations canceled as unrest spreads

There was a slight hope of a rapid resolution in the currently undergoing social unrest in Madagascar. Leaders of both government and opposition announced a meeting would be held yesterday. That meeting was canceled after both parties failed to agree on preliminary conditions. In the meantime, lootings are still ongoing in the capital city and several sources reports that there are growing mobs in the cities in the provinces. Twitterer Daniel Austin, from the town of Ambositra in the southern Region writes:

300-strong mob brandishing sticks & stones set fire to the government forestry building in Ambositra #Madagascar this morning

To better understand how a country better known until now for its unique biodiversity has reached this point of unrest, here is a timeline of political events in Madagascar for the past year that help explains the causes:

- December 2007: Municipal elections in Antananarivo lost by governing party against a young self-made businessman, not unlike the current president.
- November 2008: Prospective land deal with Daewoo Logistics draws outrage nationally.
- December 2008: Conflict over the alleged improper broadcasting of political speech and its unsuing closing of the broadcasting television station.
- January 2009: Series of unusal prison Breaks all over the nation.

- January 2009: As tropical storms hit Madagascar, political demonstrations against government expand. In a cruel twist of irony, the regions hit by storms are also the ones closely involved in the prospective land deal.

Despite calls from both president Ravalomanana and his opponent Rajoelina for a return to order and calm, bloggers still report looting of major shopping centers and gun shots. Some even call for a curfew as confusion seem to reign as of Jan 27th 10:00 GMT.

Many reports are still pouring in, often conflicting. One has to keep in mind that objectivity is hard to come by as frustration settles in.

Here are a few reactions from bloggers:
Andry is infuriated by the lack of order:

“my personnal feeling is that violation of laws and public orders have become legal and authorized. Who will protect innocent citizens? Are we going to stay and wait for our turn?”

( Looting and fire via Andry)

Barijaona witnesses more police in the streets in Antananarivo (fr):

#madagascar : précision : forces de l'ordre plus présentes que la veille _à Antananarivo_ .

To be more precise: Police forces are more present that yesterday in Antanarivo.

Carole on Facebook writes:

” 15h15, les coups de feu ne s'arretent pas à Analakely, coté pavillons.”

15h15, gunshots keeps coming from Analakely, next to pavillions

Latest tweets reporting from radio news indicate that a curfew might be implemented soon.

Update: local radio now streaming online (mg).

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