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Madagascar protesters seek president’s resignation

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Opposition supporters and deputies link arms as they gather at “May 13 Square” in Antananarivo on April 23, 2018, to offer their condolences to the families of victims killed in protests on April 21. Thousands of Madagascan opposition supporters returned to the streets to protest against the president and a deadly crackdown by security forces on demonstrations. Two people were killed and at least 16 people wounded at protests in the capital Antananarivo on April 21, that President Hery Rajaonarimampianina denounced as an attempted coup. Large crowds gathered to honour the victims, parading quietly pass two coffins that were placed in May 13 square, the symbolic heart of the capital Antananarivo./ AFP PHOTO / RIJASOLO

Hundreds of opposition activists in Madagascar on Tuesday called for the president to step down on a fourth straight day of anti-government protests in which at least two people have died.

Seven months ahead of presidential and legislative elections, the opposition accuses the regime of trying to elbow them out of the race through new electoral laws they claim benefit the incumbent.

They allege that the new laws could bar some candidates from standing in the presidential election.

Crowds gathered at a square in front of the capital Antananarivo’s town hall asking President Hery Rajaonarimampianina to quit.

“Today we officially demand the resignation of the government, starting with you the president,” Hanitriniaina Razafimanantsoa, a leading protester said.

The crowd chanted back “Right now, right now, right now”.

Two people were killed and at least 16 people wounded on the first day of the protests on Saturday, which the president denounced as an attempted coup.

Authorities had declared the Saturday protest illegal, but about 1,000 opposition activists defied the order and security forces used tear gas to break up the gathering.

The large Indian Ocean island, which has been beset by decades of political instability, is due to hold polls in late November or December.

Elected in 2013, Rajaonarimampianina has not yet announced whether he will stand for re-election.

But two former heads of state have already said they would contest: Marc Ravalomanana, who was president from 2002 to 2009, and Andry Rajoelina, who removed Ravalomanana during a coup.

Both were barred from running in 2013 and their parties have been involved in the demonstrations.


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