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Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Madagascar witness: 'I fear a civil war'

A supporter of outgoing President Marc Ravalomanana
Ravalomanana's supporters had gathered at his presidential palace
Rindra is a 34-year-old mother, from Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo.

She and 2,500 others formed a human shield around the palace where President Marc Ravalomanana took shelter in his final days before his resignation.

She fears that Madagascar will now slip into civil war, as supporters of the ousted leader clash with soldiers loyal to the former mayor, Andry Rajoelina.


I am totally discouraged. This is a situation that we have never experienced before. We are on the verge of a civil war.

Looking outside my window I can see thick puffs of smoke in the sky above the president's former palace.


I thought: if they fire on us, we will be killed. But it will be for the good of our country

I can hear gunfire. The mutineers are celebrating.

I am very sad. I'm disgusted in fact.

Today, I was at the entrance to the president's palace.

There were about 2,500 of us gathered there, since Saturday, protecting our president.

We were waiting for the arrival of the military. And we were afraid.

Human shield

We didn't have guns or arms. We didn't have anything.

I thought: "If they fire on us, we will be killed. But it will be for the good of our country."

I am married and I have a son who is four years old. But I am ready to die for my country.

If it can help the president - after what he has done for Madagascar - I am ready.

Before 2002, Madagascar was one of the poorest countries in the world.

But he made roads for us. He gave us medical care. He gave the children a better chance of education.

In the last two months, there has been some suffering.

There was briefly a food shortage - prices went very high.

In town, the supporters of Andry Rajoelina were gathered in the street. They robbed people and looted shops.

President Marc Ravalomanana
President Ravalomanana told supporters he was ready to die, but later resigned

Today at the president's palace, I was there with my aunt and my mother. We were surrounded by working people - what you would call Madagascar's middle class.

We were singing the song that President Ravalomanana used in his 2006 election campaign because it gave us all hope.

On Sunday the president came to say 'Thank you' to us.

He told us: "I will not go away - I will stay here and die."

Then today we heard him on the radio, announcing that he had relinquished power.

I was very sad. I didn't cry. I was saying to myself that I must be strong.

Where now?

It is sure that people who support Ravalomanana will not accept this. They will try to take revenge. It is not finished yet.

Who is behind him? It is me, and it is 80% of the people of Madagascar - the people in the rural areas. The people outside Antananarivo.

But it is sure that the mutineers will try to frighten the population.

The protests will be more dangerous now. Because this time the military will be firing on us.

Do I have the energy?

That's a good question. I don't know. Not today anyway.

It's a very gloomy day.

It is like we are in Africa.


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