Reformed churches call for calm in Madagascar as protests escalate

By Agencies
March 24, 2009

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Council for World Mission (CWM) are appealing for calm in Madagascar following a change of government after weeks of violence in the country.

“Our concern at this time is for the peace and welfare of all the peoples of Madagascar,” says WARC's general secretary, Setri Nyomi. “We call on all parties to consider the will of the people in seeking the best way to ensure good governance now and in the future.”

Thousands of Madagascans on Tuesday demonstrated for a second consecutive day against Andry Rajoelina's army-backed removal of Marc Ravalomanana as president of the Indian Ocean island.

Protestors came in larger numbers than on Monday and numbered close to 10,000 for a rally in the capital's Ambohijatovo gardens to condemn Rajoelina's "coup", an AFP correspondent reported.

Some waved 2006 electoral campaign banners of ex-president Ravalomanana and sang campaign songs from the same period. The crowd also burst into an emotional rendition of the national anthem.

While the crowd dispersed peacefully, there were some scuffles between around 200 youths and supporters of Rajoelina. Another demonstration has been called for Wednesday 25 March 2009.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Madagascar, the largest Protestant church in the country, is a member of WARC and CWM. On Tuesday the church's president, Lala Rasendrahasina, was detained briefly by unidentified elements in the military following a meeting at the offices of the Christian Council of Churches of Madagascar.

Noting attempts over the past weeks by the Christian Council of Churches to convene a conference of reconciliation, CWM's general secretary, Desmond van der Water says, “We recognize the role that churches in Madagascar might play in reconciliation initiatives at this time and we pray for wisdom and understanding to guide their way.”

“We are asking our member churches worldwide to keep the churches and all the peoples of Madagascar in their prayers,” says Nyomi. “We affirm our continued commitment during this period of uncertainty and insecurity.”

Van der Water adds, “The CWM global community of churches joins with our friends and colleagues at WARC in praying for renewed hope in a peaceful and harmonious future for all the peoples of Madagascar.”

Keywords:Madagascar | Africa
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