Dialogue Urged to Solve Crisis in Madagascar

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II asked the political leaders of Madagascar to initiate dialogue as a solution to the island nation´s grave crisis.

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After expressing his “great concern and regret” over the news from Madagascar, the Holy Father exhorted those in authority to “take up again with trust and courage the way of dialogue for a rapid solution to the grave crisis, solely in view of the common good.”

“In particular, I invite the Christian community of the Great Island to raise fervent prayers to implore the Lord for the gift of peace in justice and reciprocal respect,” the Pontiff added, at the end of his Sunday meeting with pilgrims to pray the Angelus.

On Friday, outgoing President Didier Ratsiraka declared martial law in Antananarivo, the capital, and transferred his power to an appointed military government in this nation of 15.9 million off the coast of southern Africa.

Mayor Marc Ravalomanana of Antananarivo, Ratsiraka´s rival in the presidential elections, proclaimed himself “president of the republic” on Feb. 22, saying that he was elected on the first round, “with 52.15% of the vote as opposed to 35.67%” for Ratsiraka.

Official results published in January gave 46.21% of the votes in the first round to Ravalomanana, and 40.89% to Ratsiraka.

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