On January 28, the U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Alert, urging American citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Madagascar due to the country's escalating political turmoil. Although the alert has not been lifted, and is still in effect through May 1, the situation appears to have calmed down.
Violent anti-government demonstrations, responsible for at least 43 deaths, broke out last week as a result of growing tension between the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina and President Ravalomanana. Rajoelina called for a complete shutdown of all businesses, but today's bustling marketplace and open ministries indicate that support for the opposition may be fading.
Rajoelina addressed a peaceful rally of 3,000 today at city hall today, saying he would petition the courts and Parliament to remove President Ravalomanana. The president, however, spoke shortly after and declared, "I remain the president of this country. We managed the crisis in Madagascar."
While the violence has abated, the situation remains unresolved, and the Travel Alert is still in effect. Caution is advised for American citizens already in Madagascar, and those considering travel to the country despite the alert are urged to register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar at travelregistration.state.gov.