Security Forces in Madagascar fire tear Gas on opposition candidates

In the midst of rising political tensions ahead of next month’s presidential elections, security forces in madagascar fired tear gas on opposition candidates leading a demonstration in the capital antananarivo on monday.

Eleven of the 13 presidential candidates in the race had urged supporters to demonstrate against what they have described as a “political coup” to favor incumbent Andry Rajoelina.

On monday morning, some of them, including former president marc Ravalomanana, gathered arms as they marched a few hundred people towards the central may 13 square.

However, law enforcement and army forces retreated in the hundreds ahead of the unsanctioned rally, attempting to disperse the crowd before it reached its intended destination.

“They’re crazy! What the soldiers are doing is dangerous,” said Ravalomanana, who was brought to safety by security guards as tear gas was fired in the parking lot of a tennis club in the capital.” he said.

According to police spokesperson Tojo Raoilijon,minimum of two persons were arrested and eight others were wounded, including six police officers and one presidential candidate.

“Such things happen often,”Raoirijon said of the wounded candidate, adding that some demonstrators threw stones at security forces.

On november 9, voters in madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries due to its vast natural resources, will vote for a president.

Rajoelina, 49, resigned last month to stand for re-election in accordance with the constitution.

The senate president was supposed to take over, but he declined for “personal reasons,” leaving the job to a “collegial government” led by prime minister christian Ntsay, an ally of Rajoelina.

The highest court in the country accepted the move, which also rejected Rajoelina’s appeal to cancel her candidacy on the grounds of her dual French citizenship, angering opposition parties.

Opposition candidate Jean-Jacques Ratsientison said, “What happened this morning was scandalous but it will not stop us from trying again and again,”

Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko added,“Rajoelina wants to dazzle the opposition with tear gas. It is our democracy that is crying,”

 ‘Foment Unrest’

The Indian Ocean island nation’s capital was calm in the afternoon as police maintained a heavy presence in the centre.

Rajoelina on Sunday accused the opposition of causing a political crisis “to the core” by not being “ready” to vote.

he said in a televised address that,“There is no crisis in Madagascar,”

“There are people who want to foment unrest in the country… who want to burn down infrastructure, including the City Hall. We do not accept that.”

The European Union, the United States, Britain and other countries, including France, last month said they were preparing for the vote with “utmost caution”.

They said confidence in the electoral process was key to ensuring the results were acceptable to “everyone” and ensuring the country’s “stability”.

The president of the Constitutional Court has previously denied allegations of bias, telling AFP that the Constitutional Court cannot “force” the president of the Senate to take the reins.

Rajoelina first came to power in 2009 after Ravalomanana was overthrown in a coup.

International pressure prevented him from running in the 2013 elections, but he returned to power in the 2018 vote.