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REPORTER KILLED COVERING ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTEST

A reporter was shot dead while covering an anti-government protest in Madagascar, report Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Ando Ratovonirina of the private broadcaster Radio Télévision Analamanga (RTA) was among the more than two dozen people killed when security forces opened fire on a demonstration outside the Presidential Palace in Antananarivo on 7 February. Protesters were calling for the replacement of President Marc Ravalomanana's government.

Ratovonirina was carrying a notebook and microphone, according to his colleague Mirindra Raparivelo, who was filming the scene for the station.

According to CPJ, the country's Defence Minister resigned in protest after the shootings, while the United Nations called for "a fair process by which those responsible will be brought to justice."

CPJ says the demonstration came amid a deepening power struggle between the President and rival Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of Antananarivo. Rajoelina has accused Ravalomanana of mismanagement and demanded he resign. He has already declared himself President and established a parallel government.

Last month, opposition protesters burned down the facilities of two pro-government broadcast companies after the government closed a TV station owned by Rajoelina, says CPJ.

Ratovonirina is the first journalist killed in the line of duty in Madagascar since CPJ began keeping records in 1992.

Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/bv9qu9
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30250
(Photo: Demonstrators march on the Presidential Palace on 7 February. AFP/Walter Astrada)

(11 February 2009)

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