Twenty-eight female guards were unfairly dismissed by a security company because the client‚ Metrora.
ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's opposition leader Andry Rajoelina said yesterday that he had the army's backing and was giving the orders during a standoff with the Indian Ocean island's president.
He is urging President Marc Ravalomanana to step down in a crisis that has killed more than 135 people this year and threatens to derail the economy.
"Of course it is me who is giving the army orders," Rajoelina said.
Ravalomanana has in turn offered a referendum as a solution to the political crisis.
"We must follow democratic principles. If we have to, we will organise a referendum," he told about 5 000 supporters outside his palace.
According to some observers the army seems to be leaning away from Ravalomanana, but there has been no confirmation from the armed forces to support Rajoelina's claim that he is giving the orders.
Madagascar's army has remained neutral during various periods of political volatility since independence from France in 1960. Diplomats are urging it to stay that way.
Ravalomanana defied a four-hour deadline by Rajoelina to step down on Saturday and his supporters guarded the presidential palace through the night.
"For now we are waiting for him to resign," Rajoelina said.
"If he doesn't, then we have other options . I can't say if that means a military intervention."
The opposition leader said he expected important developments within the next day or two.
"We'll let him leave quietly," he said.
Rajoelina, 34, a former DJ who was sacked as Antananarivo's mayor earlier this year, says Ravalomanana is an autocrat who runs the island like a private company.
The president's supporters call Rajoelina a troublemaker bent on seizing power illegally.
A Ravalomanana aide said the president was considering his choices to end the crisis, without giving details.
While Rajoelina has tapped into widespread public discontent, especially with high levels of poverty, many are fed up with the disruption this year's protests have brought to their lives and the economy. - Reuters.