ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's opposition leader Andry Rajoelina called on security forces to arrest President Marc Ravalomanana so he could rule the Indian Ocean island.
The opposition had earlier rejected an offer from Ravalomanana to hold a referendum to resolve the political crisis in which at least 135 people have been killed.
"I ask the army and police and all those who can, to carry out the minister of justice's demand, because Andry Rajoelina ,34, is impatient to get into office," he told a rally in the capital.
Christine Razanamahasoa, who has been appointed justice minister in Rajoelina's parallel administration, told the rally she was ordering prosecutors to arrest Ravalomanana.
Raising tensions in the crisis, explosions were heard before dawn near the presidential palace. Witnesses and officials spoke of two or three blasts not far from the palace. But there was no indication they represented an attack on the president who is hunkered down in the whitewashed colonial-era chateau with supporters milling round outside vowing to repel any opposition assault.
"There were two loud explosions at about 3am. They were strong enough to shake the house," resident Solanje Rasoamanana said. A statement read out on Radio Mada, owned by Ravalomanana, said five vehicles with masked men were seen leaving after the explosions.
Rajoelina, a former disc jockey who was sacked as Antananarivo's mayor last month, says the president is an autocrat. - Reuters