Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Madagascar

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The Association for the Renewal of Madagascar party of President Didier Ratsiraka--the former military ruler who was returned to power through 1996 elections that observers declared were free and fair--gained a slight majority in the May parliamentary elections that led to the appointment of Prime Minister Tantely Andrianarivo.

Journalists are accustomed to working in a relatively free environment, and routinely report critically on government policies and sensitive issues such as conditions in the nation's prisons, where torture is allegedly routine. But the December 28 sentencing of Christian Chatefaux, editor in chief of L'Express de Madagascar, and Harry Rahajason, a reporter with the newspaper, to three-month prison terms for contempt of court has stirred fears that the days of autocracy could return.