Thousands marched in Madagascar’s capital on Monday to protest against new electoral laws and the death of a person in a similar march at the weekend, said a witness.
On Saturday, police fired teargas at an opposition demonstration where the person died and more than a dozen were treated for injuries, some caused by teargas canisters.
On Monday, thousands of demonstrators, most of them dressed in white, assembled in front of the city hall and a public square. They brought the coffin of the victim of Saturday’s clashes with them, according to the Reuters witness.
Supporters of opposition politician Marc Ravalomanana, a former leader of the Indian Ocean island nation, say the new electoral laws are designed to block him from running in the election.
The opposition is also challenging provisions on campaign financing and access to media in the laws.
Ravalomanana, who was removed in a 2009 coup, has teamed up with the man who succeeded him, Andy Rajoelina, to oppose the laws pushed by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina.
Before Monday’s march began, General Beni Xavier Rasolofonirina, the defense minister, appealed to politicians to find an outcome that would avoid violence.
“The security forces invite politicians to discuss and find a political solution to a political problem. The police will never accept power that does not come from the electoral process,” he said in a statement.
He said police would stay away from the area where people were marching.
“The police remind us that their mission is to protect the population and its property (...). To avoid violent clashes, the police decided to withdraw from the protected area (closed to demonstrations).”
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