Madagascar: “Unmitigated Disaster”

( Soldiers in burned block by Mehmoud Karim) )

After two days of upheaval that resulted in an estimated death toll at 80 nationally, and the looting of dozens of stores, a day of relative calm greeted a stunned nation.

Soldiers are now patrolling Antananarivo, and both parties have called for supporters to stand down. The mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, called for a “ghost town” operation in the capital today, January 29th, urging supporters to stay at home, but attend an organized public demonstration on Saturday, January 31st. President Ravalomanana met with his executive cabinet as well as religious leaders to find a solution to the current instability. Many foreign embassies have issued alerts to their citizens about carefully considering traveling to Madagascar.

Bloggers reflect on what many locally called “Black Monday” as confusion and anger prevail.

Mialisoa Randriamampianina writes that both sides should take responsibility for this “unmitigated disaster”(fr):

Marc Ravalomanana et Andry Rajoelina se défendent de toute responsabilité face à cette incroyable débandade : cela ne les dédouanera pas d’avoir allumé la mèche sur une poudrière. En même temps, l’audace de se croire «innocents» devant ce chaos général relève d’une impressionnante mauvaise foi

Marc Ravalomanana et Andry Rajoelina both absolve themselves of any responsibility in this incredible disaster: that won't take away the fact that they both produced the spark that led to the explosion. Moreover, the audacity of making us believe that they are “innocents” in the face of such generalized chaos is an impressive act of bad faith

( Photo of fire and car destroyed by Jentilisa )

A journalist blogging under the acronym POV explains that the animosity between the two politicians is rooted in personal rivalry but is also stoked by the agenda of former leaders (fr):

Les observateurs estiment que le jeune maire ne serait pas aussi téméraire sans être « appuyé ». Histoire de dire que toute cette manœuvre est soutenue par des hommes de l’ombre [..] A en juger par les milliards que Andry Rajoelina dilapide dans cette guéguerre, l’on estime qu’il jouit d’un puissant sponsor. Personne n’ose le dire, mais beaucoup le pensent…tout bas : les caciques de l’ancien régime.

Observers estimate that the young mayor would not be as courageous if he was not “pushed”. Story goes that all this maneuvering is supported by people behind the curtain. […] Going by the billions Andry Rajoelinais spending in this “battle”, one can assume he benefits from a powerful sponsor. Nobody will say it out loud but everyone whispers it: it's the former administration's clique at it again

Whatever of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the people are left contemplating images of burn bodies, stores broken open and general desolation. Groups on Facebook are calling for a return to peace in Madagascar and a show of love for the country regardless of political affiliation and gathered hundreds of members in a few days. Passionate conversations are taking place (fr):

On the forum, ” Ras le bol de l'instabilité politique à Madagascar“, Mandy says (fr):

je souhaite dire stop à ces politiciens qui ne pensent qu'à leurs gueules: Laissons les urnes s'exprimer.

I'd like to tell all the politicians who only think of their own interests: let the elections decide.

Another group named “TSIA, tsy isan'ireo izay manakorontana” calls for unity:

Conscient que malgrès la difficulté, nous saurons relever la tete
-Conscient que la victoire ne peut s'obtenir que par l'unité
-Conscient que le patriotisme ne rime pas avec extremisme,

(we) vouch that in spite of the difficult times, we will keep our head up.
-conscious that unity is the only way to victory
– conscious that patriotism does not rhyme with extremism.

Finally, a group of Peace Corps Volunteers, disappointed by the lack of information in the US mainstream media, created a group to gather updates related to the crisis and the whereabouts of their colleagues all over Madagascar. John Elliot posted the following update:

Yesterday the U.S. ambassador met with Ravolamanana to try and talk sense to him, but bore little fruit. His car was attacked/rocked by a mob after leaving the meeting. Now the economic impact is more threatening than the violence. Gas prices have skyrocketed, food will soon follow. Gas stations are like parking lots, lines around the block, and most are out of gas.


  • […] photographs and video to Flickr — and of course by contributing blogs, photos and podcasts to Global Voices […]

  • My daughter is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. I of course am concerned about her safety, but I am also saddened by the interruption of her service to the people of Madagascar. I pray for the families who have lost loved ones during this tragedy, and that a resolution may be found to enable our devoted young people to return to their perspective sites to serve the people of Madagascar.

  • Dear Sherril,

    I hope that your daughter is safe and sound in Madagascar. We are all thankful for your thoughts towards the victims’ families and for the service that the PCV are providing all over the country.
    A similar display of selflessness is probably needed from our leaders to find an issue to this crisis.

  • […] [Read more] […]

  • Masoandro Rasolompanjaka

    First I would like to say misaotra betsaka aloha amin’ny mpanoratra ê, tsy misy zavatra an-teny englisy no mety hampianatra ny vazaha amin’ity krizy ity.

    What is most surprising to me is that this seems just like a repeat of what happened in 2002 as far as the people’s situation is concerned. They are holed up in their houses and most businesses and schools are closed (although fortunately cell phones and the JIRAMA (electricity and water) are working).
    I have heard accusations that TGV is a puppet being controled by Ratsiraka, although this post doesn’t really talk about the interests of both sides, what does TGV have to gain from seizing power?
    Also, I read that TGV was removed from office (AFP) by the minister of the interior, which cannot help the case from either side.

    I wish that more international people were aware of this situation and not write it off as just “another African political crisis” as I hear from many people here.
    People should be aware of what is going on in the world, especially here in the United States, although interfering might affect our nice, cheap Malagasy imports, such as clothing, lychees, amongst others.

  • […] it is a multimedia blog with coverage from words, images, and videos. For example, in the article Madagascar: “Unmitigated Disaster” it provides with pictures to reflect the vivid situation about the disaster. In China: Plateau in […]

  • […] Since riots and lootings claimed fifty dead in Madagascar on January 26, the situation has become bleaker. Saturday, February 09 was an even bloodier day. Dubbed “Red Saturday” by some, it saw the presidential guard fire upon a crowd of protesters who had gathered outside the Presidential palace of Ambohitsirohitra. […]

  • […] kini semakin tak mengenakan, semenjak aksi huru-hara serta penjarahan yang telah mengakibatkan 50 korban meninggal di Madagaskar tanggal 26 Januari lalu. Hari Sabtu 7 […]

  • […] que motins e saques causaram a morte de 50 pessoas no Madagáscar em 26 de janeiro, a situação piorou. No sábado 7 […]

  • […] ny toe-draharaha teto Madagasikara hatramin'ny 26 janoary 2009 nisiana fihetsiketsehana sy fandrobana nahafatesana hatramin'ny 50. Mbola nandriaka ny ra ny andron'ny Asabotsy 07 Febroary. […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site