Potential Hot Spots: May 17, 2002


Madagascar's new President Marc Ravalomanana is threatening to expand the confrontation with old President Didier Ratsiraka if the blockade of central Madagascar is not lifted. Apparently the destruction of bridges and the roadblocks set up by Ratsirakas followers is starting to squeeze the Ravalomanan stronghold of Antananarivo (the capital). Ravalomanana may be able to make good on his threat since most sources report the Madagascan gendarmerie and military troops are loyal to his government. An AFP report said one Ratsiraka roadblock, located in the town of Brickaville, appears to be strategically critical and is protected by a large contingent of Ratsiraka loyalists. Another significant position is the bridge crossing the Betsiboka River. This controls access to the port of Mahajanga. AFP reports 50 soldiers and militiamen are defending that bridge. The Ratsiraka supporters have also set up seven roadblocks between Antananarivo and another key pro-Ravalomanana town, Fianarantsoa (which is south of the capital). 


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