Once inaugurated as such by Andry Rajoelina, the Ambohijatovo garden turned into the Place of Democracy was, is and will remain a graveyard to democracy, also under Hery Rajaonarimampianina’s rule. In the morning of Saturday already deemed to be an eventful day, Emmo Reg squad forces have taken position in front of the garden’s gates. The perimeter was secured at the beginning by not more than thirty troopers, still an appropriate response to the small crowd spotted in the area by then, waiting for the party to start. Light patrols were wandering through the surrounding neighborhoods like Ambatonakanga, hoping to turn potential demonstrators away in advance. The bulk of their reinforcements was meanwhile waiting for eventual deployment order, comfortably sorted in their trucks a few yards away from the hot spot.
By the end of this morning, the first “sakoroka” of the Rajaonarimampianina era began when security forces finally decided to scatter the growing crowd with tear gas. “There was basically no trouble of any kind. We were simply waiting, not setting about moving towards the forbidden Place of Democracy yet. The Emmo Reg decided to lead the onslaught as first by itself” reported 34 years old Alain. “I used to be a regular at meetings held inside the Magro square until I found work. Today, it is natural for me to express my full support to President Ravalomanana” he said, although the move might have led him behind bars. “When the cops opened the hunt, they easily focused their efforts on me, mainly because I was wearing a t-shirt with a photo of Marc Ravalomanana on under my shirt. They eventually stopped giving chase when I buttoned my shirt up” he explained.
Most of the demonstrators held the security forces’ reaction as largely disproportionate. “It was no longer deterrence, let alone protection, but rather outright repression” regretted Rasolonirina when narrating a saga of “a crazy day”. He came to the conclusion that “the ruling power was keen on showing what it can.” In Analakely, non-demonstrating locals usually reproach the eventual troubles on activists and thugs too eager to take advantage from the confusion to pillage. For once, their engagement on that day entitled security forces to the largest share of the blame. “The situation did not have to worsen the way it did. What about flexing their muscles before rampaging Dahalo, if they can, instead of ganging up on non violent people longing for speaking out?”, asserted a local shopkeeper. Her colleague kept in tears by smoke and anger uttered a more direct and much less flattering speech. “The Emmo Reg is a nuisance to our activities. We cannot work in such circumstances. Their tear gases drive demonstrators as well as potential customers away!”
Views remained nonetheless fairly shared concerning the events of that day. “It was complicated, was it not? Demonstrators did set roadblocks up and tires alight, just as all demonstrators do all over the world. Such actions happen to be understood as evidences of an opened challenge held in the security forces’ rules of engagement as the green light to the use of a violent response” analyzed a former employee of the Tiko corporation, who was said to have “been there and watched from a distance”. A police officer foresaw the likely course of events while on his way to join his station: “Every available unit is back to service today. The Emmo Reg is dying for making arrests, so there might be some traffic in here” he explained.
The commander of the state police department of the jurisdiction of Antananarivo appeared pleased by the arrest of a local “leader”. “He used to serve as a former member of the transitional congress, and now still serves as an attaché in the Parliament. It is a proof of his active involvement into the organization of the demonstration” he formally declared. This politician effectively succeeded in leading the crowd down to Analakely when the crackdown began in Ambohijatovo. Another person was arrested while setting a makeshift barricade up. In this “sakoroka” (squabble), one injury was recorded, namely a misfortunate someone, whose couple of severed fingers have been spotted on the ground. So did security forces decide to respond to the desperate cry voiced by Lalao Ravalomanana about the treatment of the former president. “I am for appeasement, but we are facing a total injustice,” she said she insistently. A relatively much more massive demonstration could have been expected in this sense, but politicians and members of the Ravalomanana sphere carefully kept away from showing up: “We decided and urged people to keep away because the demonstration had not been authorized. Compliance with the law is one of our leading concerns, is it not?” declared Guy Rivo Randrianarisoa.