sábado, 14 de marzo de 2009

Madagascar's opposition leader threatens to topple President Marc Ravalomanana if he does not resign by Saturday afternoon

Madagascar's opposition leader has threatened to lead marchers to the presidential palace if President Marc Ravalomanana does not step down.
Andry Rajoelina, who emerged from hiding to address a rally in the capital, said the president had until Saturday afternoon to resign "humbly".
Mutinying army troops have also called on the president to go, leaving the nation close to military intervention.
At least 100 people have died since protests broke out in late January.
The Indian Ocean island nation has been rocked by seven weeks of riots, protests and looting amid the fierce power struggle between President Ravalomanana and Mr Rajoelina.
The opposition leader - who was sacked by the government as mayor of the capital last month - went into hiding on 5 March after security forces tried to arrest him.
On Saturday, several thousand of his supporters, clad in orange T-shirts and hats, gathered as Mr Rajoelina reappeared to speak at Antananarivo's 13 May Plaza.
The square has been epicentre of popular revolts since independence from France in 1960.
The 34-year-old businessman and former DJ said: "There is only one demand, that's the departure of Ravalomanana," reported Reuters news agency.
"We will wait four hours. I, Andry Rajoelina, am ready to carry out the democratic handover of power."
He added: "I am going to go to Iavoloha (presidential palace) to say goodbye to him."
The opposition leader - who accuses the president of being a tyrant who misspends public money - has been trying to establish a parallel government by naming an alternative cabinet, with himself as president.
Opposition activists and leaders earlier on Saturday took control of the building containing the prime minister's office in the capital.
Roindefo Zafitsimivalo Monja, who the opposition is trying to install as the new premier, spoke to reporters from the occupied offices.
"The president of the republic is no longer in a position to exercise the role allocated to him by the constitution," he said, according to AFP news agency. "It is clear the armed forces refuse to obey the president."
Several hundred people gathered at the presidential palace, following a radio appeal on Friday by Mr Ravalomanana to rally to his cause.
On Wednesday, the leader of a widening mutiny within the army ousted the chief of staff and a day later the military police said it would no longer take orders from the government.
But the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Antananarivo says the army appears almost as divided as the politicians and there is support within the military for both rivals.
Col Noel Rakotonandrasa, spokesman for the dissident troops, urged the president to quit "at once" on Friday. "For sure there will be no resistance," he told the BBC.
Mr Ravalomanana - who has said he wants to stay in power until his mandate runs out in 2011 - vowed to re-establish order but said his life was under threat.
"My assassination would not be in your interest," he said. "The people would suffer, and the international community would not accept it."
The US state department warned on Friday the situation in Madagascar had "entered a dangerous phase" and urged the political rivals to "urgently commit" to talks.
For a country with unique rainforest and wildlife - the financial impact of the crisis is already clear, our correspondent says.
A tourist industry worth nearly $400m (£290m) a year has now had two months with no revenue.
Under President Ravalomanana, Madagascar's economy has opened to foreign investment but 70% of the nation's 20 million population still live on incomes of less than $2 (£1.40) a day.

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