afrol News, 20 March - In an effort to end the political crisis on Madagascar, the self-proclaimed Malagasy President, Marc Ravalomanana, has called for an end to the general strike that started in his support in January. Ravalomanana hopes this will move his opponent to lift the road blocks paralysing the capital, Antananarivo.
Reconciliation seems to be the trend on Madagascar, which has found itself in a political turmoil, though peaceful, for months. The internationally Malagasy President, Didier Ratsiraka, also has made statements that should help restoring normalcy.
President Ratsiraka last week denied suggestions by five provincial governors of a transfer of the Malagasy capital from Antananarivo to Tamatave, where he supposedly would put up his government. Ratsiraka's supporters agreed to remove the roadblocks into Antananarivo, hindering supplies of basic commodities to the capital and the rest of the island.
Reports yesterday however suggested that Ratsiraka's followers had not implemented the accord. Still, Ravalomanana's government in the capital now is calling for an end to the general strike. Public and private sector workers were urged to return to work on Tuesday, although it is unclear how many have did so. An end to the strike has been a key demand of President Ratsiraka's supporters for lifting the blockade on the capital.
Meanwhile, in Antananarivo, Ravalomanana has assumed total control of all institutions. Last week, the last Ministry, of the Prime Minister, was taken over by Ravalomanana's self-proclaimed government. Yesterday, about 60 Malagasy MPs siding with Ravalomanana "installed" Paraina Auguste as the pro tem Speaker of the National Assembly in Antananarivo.
President Ratsiraka, on the other hand, has been reduced to blocking the road from Tamatave, which is the main port and his political stronghold, to the capital to starve the city of fuel and food supplies. Except the international recognition, there are few facts backing Ratsiraka's claim he is still President of Madagascar.
The Malagasy military still holds a neutral position, however. While most of the military leaders back Ravalomanana, the significant minority siding with Ratsiraka block a firm stand by the armed forces. Several senior officers have already pledged allegiance to Ravalomanana, but Army Chief of Staff Ismael Mounibou and others continues to back President Ratsiraka.
The people of Madagascar, in particular of the capital, has been determined for months to help Marc Ravalomanana into power after the rigged 16 December presidential elections, which Ravalomanana claims to have won outright. Citizens have persisted in powerful but peaceful protests since the beginning of January.