Madagascar boiling over

WAITING GAME: Soldiers outside the presidential palace in Antananarivo. 17/03/2009.
WAITING GAME: Soldiers outside the presidential palace in Antananarivo. 17/03/2009.

ANTANANARIVO - Presidential guards and hundreds of supporters yesterday protected Madagascar's leader Marc Ravalomanana, who has vowed to fight to the death if pro-opposition soldiers try to drive him from power.

ANTANANARIVO - Presidential guards and hundreds of supporters yesterday protected Madagascar's leader Marc Ravalomanana, who has vowed to fight to the death if pro-opposition soldiers try to drive him from power.

In a further sign of power ebbing away from the president, opposition leader Andry Rajoelina told 10000 supporters that eight ministers had resigned.

Weeks of opposition protests and turmoil on the island have killed 135 people, crippled tourism and scared off foreign investors.

Rajoelina's bid to force Ravalomanana out, however, has stirred some disapproval from foreign powers who want to avoid another violent transfer of power in Africa.

"I am worried we are going into civil war," said resident Victor Razafindratsima.

On Monday, Madagascar's army threw its weight behind Rajoelina and stormed the presidential palace and seized the central bank.

A spokesperson for Ravalomanana denied a report on radio that he had resigned.

"No, the president has not resigned," Andry Ralijaona said. - Reuters

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