September 1, 2008

Malagasy Leader Plays Down Recent Opposition Rallies, Paper

Text of report by Malagasy privately-owned daily newspaper L'Express de Madagascar website on 1 September

The government has not been particularly vocal over the demonstrations held in some districts on Friday.

It appears as if the government wishes to give the impression that it attaches little importance to these events.

President Ravalomanana has issued no statement on yesterday's rallies organized by the opposition in several towns.

The head of state's speech broadcast on Ny tenin'ny Filoham- pirenena was limited to matters concerning water and education.

On Friday, the opposition organized rallies in various towns such as Antisranana and Toliara and also made an attempt to hold a demo in Toamasina which resulted in a series of arrests after intervention by security forces.

In line with the image potrayed by the president, the regime seems to have been instructed to play down the opposition's movement.

Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara, among others, failed to touch on the issue during his meeting with local officials on Saturday.

Questioned by journalists, the chief of the government merely said: "these movements are not widespread nationally and are limited to a few towns only". He spoke of groups who do not have the popular support of the people.

Originally published by L'Express de Madagascar website, Antananarivo, in French 1 Sep 08.

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