“Please, be carefull“, this is what my friends and relatives told me when they knew that I would go to Ambohijatovo democracy square on Saturday March 28th to attend the rally that the “legalists” in Madagascar have made since Saturday March 21st.
I understood that they were afraid of eventual clashes between the ralliers and the TGV supporters. For five days (since Monday March 23rd), there have been regular confrontings between TGV supporters and ralliers in Analakely May 13th square. The police always puts an end to such confrontings by intervening (most of the time, after one hour of fight) with tear-gas, sky-shooting and arrests. The legalists, since Saturday March 21st, have not planned to do a rally on Analakely May 13th square. According to the leaders of the anti-coup d’état movement, most of their ralliers have to pass by this place to go home. “May 13th square is a public place. Why should not we go or pass by there?” ask Raharinaivo Andrianatoandro, MP for the jurisdiction of Ambohidratrimo and spokesman of TIM (political party created by Marc Ravalomanana).
Alain Ramaroson, leader of the FDC (Democratic Forces for Change) and close collaborator of Andry Rajoelina, clearly stated on Friday March 27th in a interview to a local TV that he and his “boay kely” (hooligans) would never allow the ralliers to have meetings at Analakely May 13th square. He added: “this place is sacred … it was not easy for us “to get” this place … we won’t let these bastards to profane it”
The 28 political prisoners who have been freed by a presidential pardon granted by Andry Rajoelina on Saturday March 21st (during his ceremony of official installation in Mahamasina stadium), have also expressed their hostility towards this new opposition movement. They said that they (the political prisoners) don’t need the help of the militaries to “eliminate” this movement.
Besides, these 28 former political prisoners made a press conference at the “Motel d’Antananarivo” on Monday March 30th in which Pety Rakotoniaina (former mayor of Fianarantsoa) declared: “we consider the movement of Ravalomanana supporters in Ambohijatovo as a insult towards the “popular fight”. We have to put an end to that fight. In this regard, we call all Antananarivo people to come to Ambohijatovo democracy square on Tuesday March 31st to support us. We have already filed our application to obtain a public meeting authorization before the CUA (Mayor’s office – Antananarivo)”.
“What you do in Ambohijatovo is a subversive action which aims to make a show of crisis, in order to facilitate the intervention of SADC. We can not accept that. Through keeping such attitude, you insult the people and its leaders. Now, I warn you … do not come back anymore in Ambohijatovo”, Emmanuel Razafindrazaka, former general inspector of police (locally known as General Bôlô) said during this press conference.
Association of the defenders of the transition regime
It seems that the transitional administration of Andry Rajoelina starts to be seriously afraid of this anti-coup d’état movement. The setting-up of the association of the defenders of the transition regime, which gathers the students from Ankatso university (led by a famous striker: Mamy Jo), clubs of young people from Antananarivo ghettos, and reservists, is among the expression of such fear. This association has clearly expressed his readiness to defend by “any means” the transition regime.
This new association made a press conference on Friday March 27th at “Restaurant Mon Goûter” to present its members.
Surely, the number of ralliers has achieved its climax on Saturday March 28th: Ambohijatovo democracy square was fully crowded! According to estimates, there were around 15,000 to 20,000 people who joined the rally.
Most of the famous MPs from TIM and other political parties were on stage
Ravonison Ambroise: “if you are a TGV, then we are a jet!”
Alain Andriamiseza (leader of MCDM: Christian Democrat Movement of Madagascar): “We started in Ambohijatovo. We will pass by May 13th square. And we will arrive in Ambotsirohitra. In order to achieve that, we have to act cautiously to avoid breakages”
Jean Louis Rakotoamboa, national president of TEZA (political party close to Marc Ravalomanana): “we have lived during 02 months with terrorism and dictatorship. We will block during 15 days the “administrative machine” to destroy this transition.” He also warned the French banks in Madagascar against fundings granted to the HAT (High Authority of Transition) through treasury bills.
Célestin Randrianarivony, national coordinator of legalist civil servants: “It starts! We will not stop anymore! We will not negotiate anymore despite the call of the primeminister Monja Roindefo.”
Constant Raveloson, General Secretary of MFM: “Legalist militaries, take all necessary measures and stand up against this coup d’état of Andry Rajoelina! This is a shame for militaries!”
The leaders of the movement have declared that because the ultimatum that they gave to Andry Rajoelina to step down on Saturday March 21st, has expired and that they got no satisfactory answer from this latter, then, the whole nation (…) will go on strike starting from Monday March 30th.
They said that all public offices would be closed starting from Monday in order to show to the current administration that all Malagasy civil servants are against Andry Rajoelina’s coup d’état, some representatives from civil servants said. With a complete paralysis of the “administrative machine”, the regime of transition of Andry Rajoelina would not stand even 15 days, they added.
“As soon as all public infrastructures are paralyzed … it is unavoidable, this fake regime will collapse by itself …” They added.
It is clear then that starting from Monday, there will be no open public offices. Nevertheless, till now (Monday till Wednesday), some ministerial departments still remain open for the public and there are civil servants who still work. According to one of them (who wanted to remain anonymous), those who have publicly expressed their will to go on strike, have been threatened.
Colleges and Schools are also invited to take part into the general strike. Concerning private companies, they said that they do not want to force the employers as well as private employees to join their movement. “Everybody is free to join us or not … we do not want to bring more casualties to Malagasy private companies … we rely on the decision of each employer” Raveloson Constant (MP from MFM political party) said.
There were also some representatives from the other regions. They stated that there are several opposition movements throughout the other regions which are now raising up. “This is not only the fight of Antananarivo! This is the resistance of a whole nation!” One of them said.
Some people (I do not really know who …) have attempted to disturb the rally by sprinkling the ralliers with acid liquid. They did not succeed because they have been caught red-handed before doing anything.
There were also some representaives from TIKO Group’s employees (the group of companies which belongs to Marc Ravalomanana, who denounced the fact that their companies were facing a lot of problems and impediments from the militaries and from the HAT.
TIKO companies throughout Madagascar can not deliver by themselves their products anymore because their goods are always seized by militaries on their way. Consequently, TIKO companies only sell to companies which have the necessary means to pick up the goods. As a result, most of shops throughout Madagascar lack TIKO products (milk, butter, yoghourt, cheese, ice ceam, juice, …). This has created huge losses to the TIKO Group and obliged it to suspend their activities till the end of the crisis (decision made by the general manager of TIKO Group on Monday April 06th). Since Benja Razafimahaleo has taken over the ministry of finance, he has always harassed TIKO Group about outstanding taxes and customes duties.
Now, We will all go to May 13th square!
The MP Constant Raveloson declared at the end of the meeting: “Now is the time to show to Andry Rajoelina, to the whole nation and to the world, our real strength, let us show to them that we are not afraid to express our opposition to this coup d’état. The May 13th square belongs to any citizen, it is our right to go there and to carry on our rally there!”. Ralliers could not hide their massive happiness when they heard that. Now, we will all go to May 13th square!
Actually, their plan was to go to May 13th square to listen to a telephonic message from Marc Ravalomanana. Such message incited Malagasy people to fight against a new form of colonization in force in Madagascar.
It has been decided that MPs will lead the march to May 13th square. All the ralliers will follow them in a kind of compact group. Before that the MPs could leave Ambohijatovo democracy square, some ralliers (all young) were already waiting outside the square in Andohan’Analakely.
After I took this picture, there was a guy who tried to provoke me. He wanted to know why did I take these pictures. Through his eyes, I could see that this guy was under the effect of some drugs. Obviously, he wanted to fight. I told him that I was a blogger (this kind of guy does not even know what an Email is …) and that it was my right to be there to take as much pictures as I want. The guy started to shout: “I don’t care! Don’t take pictures! Go!”. Then he tried to take my camera … I have been obliged to protect myself. We have fighted for 02 minutes and he ran away. Latter, I discovered that this guy has laso tried to bother some journalists who were there.
Led by the MPs, the ralliers started to head to Analakely May 13th square. People were asked to stay calm to avoid clashes. Security forces and TGV supporters were waiting near the military camp RM1. TGV supporters had bars and swords. Strange thing: security forces did nothing to disperse TGV supporters. We clearly had the feeling that they were supporting one another …
When the crowd came near “Glacier”, militaries launched the first tear-gas (01.15pm Madagascar time), the ralliers did not stop moving forward. Militaries threw deafening grenades and sky-shooted to threaten people, but ralliers did not care much, they kept on moving forward.
Suddenly, a military shooted with a real bullet and one rallier (André Razanadrakoto) was hit on his right lap. Seeing that, most of the ralliers started to move back.
Then Yves Aimé Rakotoarisoa, MP for the jurisdiction of Tolagnaro (TIM) was hit on his face by a tear-gas. He collapsed. Ralliers got panicked and all ran away. TGV supporters ran after them and stoned them.
When the ralliers, while moving back to Andohan’Anakely, were near the military camp of RM1, the militaries from this camp went out and shooted with real bullets. People all scattered away and tried to run away from the fire of RM1’s militaries, the tear-gas of other security forces and the stones of TGV supporters.
Most of the ralliers re-gathered in Ambohijatovo. Unexpected action from security forces, they kept on running after the ralliers, forcing these latters to escape till Ambatonakanga and Ambanidia.
Then, there were CAPSAT soldiers on SUVs who chased the ralliers till the top of Ambatonakanga (near the headquarters of Sea Force) and till the Ambanidia tunnel. They used machine guns.
That was really schocking for everybody. Initially, the security forces were scheduled to avoid the clashes between legalists and TGV supporters. Why did they chase people outside the perimeter of May 13th square?
At HJRA hospital
At 06.00pm (Madagascar time), Stéphane (a blogger) and I arrived to HJRA hospital. We have decide to go there to have some concrete ideas about the real “casualties” of this event. This was the nearest hospital where we could go (it is located in Andrefan’Ambohijanahary). We really wanted to know what was happening there because we were informed by some ralliers that most of the wounded people were brought to HJRA hospital.
Once we arrived there, we were amazed to see the number of people who waited around the premises of the hospital. There were people who came there because their relatives or friends have disappeared. Some went there to pick up their relatives. But most of them were there because they felt concerned about what was happening to their co-ralliers.
Most of the wounded people have already been picked up by their relatives. The doctor-in-chief told to us that there were 43 people injured. He also said that as far as HJRA hospital is concerned, they did not record any death.
I met the MP Raharinaivo Andrianatoandro (spokesman of TIM) who told me that the MP for the jurisdiction of 02nd borough of Antananarivo, William Rakotomahefanoro (principal of Lycée Faravohitra (the former Lycée Jules Ferry)) has disappeared during the clash and nobody, including his own family, knows where he is. He is unreachable on his mobile phone.
After some investigations, we have found out that he has not been arrested or killed by security forces or by TGV supporters. Now, he hides himself from authorities because he has been aware just after the clash of March 28th, that the HAT was planning to arrest him. The reason may be the following:
Thursday March 26th, the HAT minister of education, Jules Razafimanjato, made a unexpected visit to Lycée Faravohitra. He was immediately booed by students. The day after, the students from Lycée Faravohitra came massively to the rally at Ambohijatovo Democracy Park.
The MP also said that they (the legalists movement) have never been formally or informally informed or notified by the authorities that they can not pass by or make a rally at May 13th square.
He finally declared that he has heard from some eye-witnesses that there were ralliers who have been killed, but militaries from RM1 has taken their bodies to their camp. They (the militaries) even said to some people: “ask your dad (Marc Ravalomanana) to go here to take them!”. Such assertion has not been confirmed yet.