(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Analysts warn of descent into lawlessness

[Madagascar] Crowds waiting for the Election Results

Analysts warned on Friday of a "slow and steady" descent into lawlessness if the political deadlock in Madagascar was not broken soon.

In the latest violence, a Roman Catholic missionary was killed on Friday in political clashes in Fianarantsoa, AFP reported. The death of the missionary came as supporters of self-declared president, Marc Ravalomanana, tried to storm the governor's residence, the report said.

The fighting in Fianarantsoa, 300km south of the capital Antananarivo, had earlier left two soldiers and a child injured, according to news reports. Civil rights groups believe about 30 people have died since the electoral dispute turned violent.

Until recently the conflict was relatively peaceful, but the conflict between Ravalomanana and incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka has escalated as the political stalemate drags on.

"The two leaders have become increasingly belligerent, which could be the reason for people taking the law into their own hands. Supporters on both sides are becoming increasingly frustrated as every diplomatic attempt to resolve the leadership crisis has effectively failed," regional political analyst Michel Davies, of the Africa/Asia Foundation, told IRIN on Friday.

Ravalomanana insists he won last December's election outright, but official results showed that neither he nor Ratsiraka gained more than 50 percent of the vote. While Ravalomanana retains considerable support in Antananarivo, Ratsiraka has consolidated his power in the five provinces. A scheduled run-off election never materialised because Ravalomanana refused to return to the polls.

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