A deal on who should hold the top posts in Madagascar's power-sharing government faced collapse on Thursday after ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana refused to endorse his rival as president. Ravalomanana had agreed in principle to an agreement struck on Tuesday by the Indian Ocean island's feuding political parties which saw Andry Rajoelina, 35, retain the presidency on the condition he does not contest the next presidential ballot.

Political instability in Madagascar is having a serious effect on the already fragile and highly endangered ecology of this island nation. This is of profound concern as Madagascar contains many unique species that are already severely threatened.

Poverty has increased dramatically in Madagascar since January, when a national protest movement to end the regime of former president Marc Ravalomanana plunged the country into a socio-economic crisis. Since then, the number of child labourers has risen by a whopping 25 percent.

Millions of years ago, Madagascar separated from the other continents and evolved separately. Today it has about 12,000 plants most of which can be found nowhere else in the world. Many of these plants have medicinal properties, but their habitat is under threat. In the town of Tolear, people rely on herbs as the nearest hospital is far away. Traditional healers combine plants and a little bit of magic to cure patients.

Security forces in Madagascar fired tear gas on Friday to try and disperse hundreds of opposition supporters gathering for a rally in the capital of the Indian Ocean island. Backers of ousted President Marc Ravalomanana massed in a park near a central square, but security forces moved in saying the demonstration had not been authorised.