The United Nations says it is sheltering Madagascar’s opposition leader after he went into hiding fearing arrest by security forces.

Andry Rajoelina, whose protests against President Marc Ravalomanana have brought the worst political crisis and civil unrest for years on the large Indian Ocean island, has not been seen in public since Friday.

“The U.N. has decided to put Rajoelina under their protection in a diplomatic residence,” U.N. mediator for Madagascar, Drame Tiebile, told reporters late on Monday.

Tiebile, a former foreign minister of Mali, said he had the president’s word Rajoelina would not be arrested.

The U.N. envoy did not disclose his whereabouts.

At least 135 people have died during unrest since the start of this year. The crisis has already dented Madagascar’s $390 million-a-year tourism sector and may dampen the enthusiasm of foreign investors in Madagascar’s oil and mining sectors.

A mutiny by a section of the military at the weekend has intensified the crisis.

Rajoelina, a one-time disc jockey who has galvanised widespread anger over Ravalomanana’s failure to alleviate poverty, has said the president no longer controls Antananarivo or the provinces.



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