Madagascar: Political crisis - Confusion, arrests and economic woes

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Whereas the new prime minister, colonel Albert Camille Vital, has reaffirmed his willingness to work with the already designated civilian ministers, the minister of the armed forces, general Noel Rakotonandrasana, said that the military would be included in the transition government. The Malagasy press, today, wonders about the possible formation of a military-civilian government and suggests the idea as an attempt by president Andry Rajoelina to block any initiative from his opponents, whose demonstration last Tuesday, was repressed with tear gas, leaving seven wounded and leading to 13 arrests. While politics are overheating, there are growing economic woes for Madagascar. The United States has suspended the island nation from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that ensured economic aid. This move could place some 100,000 jobs in the textile sector at risk; the minister of the economy said that the government would consider devaluating the national currency, the Ariary, to ensure that Malagasy products remain competitive in export markets. [AB]