Madagascar troops stop protests against electoral law

Madagascar troops
Police clash with protesters during a opposition demonstration against a draft electoral law adopted by Madagascar’s National Assembly on April 21, 2018 in Antananarivo

Troops have been deployed to a major site of protests against Madagascar’s new electoral laws after a person was killed in clashes with police.

Troops threw a cordon around a public square in the capital Antananarivo on Sunday to prevent continued demonstrations against new laws that the opposition claims favor the ruling party and put in place obstacles to the disadvantage of opponents.

Journalists said some 100 opposition activists later gathered in the square after soldiers leaved the place.

The deployment came a day after clashes between thousands of opposition activists and security forces at the same square left a person killed and 17 other people injured.

Activists had defied an official ban on the Saturday protest and forged ahead with the demonstration which was seen as a big show of might by the opposition months ahead of presidential and legislative elections in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Authorities have planned the votes for late November or December although they could be delayed due to the widening political dispute.

Incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has yet to declare his run for the election but two main opposition leaders, namely Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, have said they will be in the race.

The two were barred from running in 2013 election and are behind the current protests. Ravalomanana was removed by Rajoelina in 2009 after serving for seven years as president. Rajoelina, a then mayor of Antananarivo, then served as unelected transition president until 2014 although his years was marred by turmoil.

Rajaonarimampianina, elected in 2013, is credited for ending years of political crises in Madagascar. His office announced Saturday that the president is out of the country on official business without specifying his location.