Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mauritian investors fear losses in Madagascar riots

Mauritian entrepreneurs who have invested heavily in Madagascar are anxious about the future of their enterprises following riots that broke out on Monday in the Malagasy capital Antananarivo..

At the call of Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital on Monday to protest against the closure by the government of a television station owned by the mayor.

The crowd turned violent and put fire to TVM, the state television station, and MBS television station which belongs to the president and to the local radio station.

Businesses and shops were also ransacked including the Magro chain of shops of the president’s family. Twelve persons died when racks fell on the rioters.

Another demonstration is scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Antananarivo and if the riots continue, Mauritian businessmen fear that they will lose millions of euros in lost business and property.

An official of the Mauritian group CIEL Textile, which has invested millions of euros in three factories in Madagascar, said in Port Louis on Tuesday that his company has adopted a "wait and see attitude”.

He said his company employs 10,000 persons and that the company incurred great losses and stopped its operations in Madagascar in 2001 after riots broke out but came back in 2002.

Many other Mauritian companies suffered huge losses in 2001 and they fear that if the political tug-of-war between the president and the mayor of the capital is not resolved very soon, there will be a repetition of the incidents of 2001.