Under heavy pressure, President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, has agreed to submit to popular vote proposed by the opposition in order to resolve the protracted political unrest that has brought the country’s economy to a near standstill. “We must follow democratic principles. If we have to, we will organize a referendum,” said president Ravalomanana.
Although the content of the proposed referendum is uncertain, it is suspected to be in connection with the president’s continuous stay in office. The political turmoil has split the people of Madagascar including the military as both sides make opposing demands.
The faction behind the opposition leader, Mr. Rajoelina, is asking for the president’s resignation while others deeply opposed to Mr Rajoelina’s ambitions want him arrested. This divide has led many experts and observers to suspect an impending civil war.
The opposition leader claims to be fighting for the average Malagasy citizen who still lives on less than $2 a day in the face of a boom in the country’s tourism industry as well foreign investments in the mining and oil sectors.
Mr. Andry Rajoelina has accused President Ravalomanana of mismanagement, tyranny and abuse of power.
Opposition leader who now controls a good faction of the army had threatened to march on the presidential palace if Mr Ravalomanana refused to stand down.
At least 100 people have been killed since protests broke out in January.
President Ravalomanana, has continued to described the opposition movement as an undemocratic street protest which uses terror and repression to survive.
Ravalomanana’s refusal to resign, according to him, is based on constitutional and democratic principles. His decision to hold a referendum to decide the fate of his political office is considered as the best solution to pacify supporters on both sides.
But Rajoelina, who stated earlier that “If he refuses (to resign) I cannot say if that means a military intervention”, could have something up his sleeve. Monday, he told the press that he is not interested in a referendum. The deposed mayor of the country’s capital has also said that he has “other options”.