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Mayor 'takes control' in Madagascar
Capital's mayor says he is in charge of country, but government remains silent.
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2009 18:52 GMT
Rajoelina has grown increasingly critical of Madagascar's government [AFP]

Madagascar's opposition leader has proclaimed himself in charge of the country following a week of violent protests that left at least 43 people dead.

Andry Rajoelina, who is also the mayor of the country's capital city, proclaimed himself head of the island's affairs during a rally in Antananarivo on Saturday.

Rajoelina, who has grown increasingly critical of Marc Ravalomanana, Madagascar's president, addressed a crowd of about 4,500 people in the capital's main square.

There was no immediate comment from Ravalomanana or the government on Rajoelina's proclamation and there was no indication that the mayor was actually in control.

"From now, I'll be giving orders," Rajoelina told the crowd.

"Since the president and the government have not taken their responsibilities, I therefore proclaim that I will run all national affairs as of today," he said.

"A request for the immediate resignation of the president will soon be filed with parliament in order to comply with the legal procedure."

Rajoelina, a former DJ and businessman, has earned himself the nickname "TGV", in reference to France's high speed train.

Civil unrest

The mayor has made a series of claims in the last week, saying he is ready to take over an interim government.

But the constitution requires a president be at least 40. Rajoelina is 34.

Saturday's rally ended peacefully, although some protesters threw stones at police in the morning.

Police withdrew from the area and protesters set up a barricade around the square.

Rajoelina's announcement came after a week of civil unrest in the capital.

Violence flared on Monday when protesters set the government broadcasting complex ablaze, along with an oil depot, shopping mall and a private TV station linked to Ravalomanana.

The protests were sparked by the government's decision to close a radio station owned by Rajoelina.

By Friday, the violence had subsided but a tense atmosphere remained on the streets of the capital.

The United Nations, US and Canada have all issued calls for calm in the former French colony in Africa.

Source:
Agencies
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