Potential Hot Spots: June 7, 2002

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President Marc Ravalomanana claimed complete control of the Madagascan Army when General Bruno Rajaonson (viewed by some as a Ratsiraka loyalist, since Ratsiraka appointed him) handed over the position of army chief of staff to General Sylvain Rawafimandy (a Ravalomanana supporter). A similar transfer of power occurred when a pro-Ravalomanana officer (identified as General Emilson Sambiheviny) took control of the Madagascan gendarmerie. Also on June 7, pro-Ravalomanana forces reported a firefight near a bridge north of the town of Sambava. There were no reports on casualties. The bridge is on the road to the port of Vohemar (which is still controlled by pro-Ratsiraka forces). Sambava is in Madagascars vanilla growing region and the vanilla bean harvest is about to begin. Ratsirakas troops are still positioned to enforce an economic blockade (which is, at the least, a negotiating chit). Subsequent reports indicate the Ratsiraka forces are using boats to transport troops to reinforce positions north of Sambava. These reports, however, were unconfirmed.

 

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