Bodies found after Madagascar riots

Twenty-five bodies have been found after anti-government protests ended in violence.

    A warehouse belonging to the president was set on fire in the country's capital [AFP]

    "We only found them this afternoon as there was a lot of rubble," he said.

    More casualties

    A teenager and a policeman were killed on Monday when protesters burned the state-owned television and radio station. 

    Witnesses said protesters also set fire to an oil depot and a private TV station linked to Marc Ravalomanana, the president, and ransacked shops owned by him.

    Andry Rajoelina, the opposition leader and mayor of the city, led the protests after his radio station Radio Viva went off air.

    Radio Viva was back on air on Tuesday, but the broadcast was frequently disrupted.

    Liane Herisoa, the channel's editor-in-chief, told the Associated Press news agency that Rajoelina had given a speech in which he claimed the military supported him and that he was planning to form a transitional government.

    Rajoelina called for a general strike in an address to 20,000 supporters [AFP]
    Rajoelina has denounced the president as a dictator after athorities shut down Rajoelina's private TV station in December for broadcasting an interview with Didier Ratsiraka, the former president.

    Rajoelina has accused Ravalomanana's government of misspending funds and threatening democracy and called for peaceful demonstrations to resume on Wednesday.

    "The protests will restart tomorrow at the 13th May Square," he said.

    "There will be no meeting nor dialogue [with the president] until the military personnel who killed one of my supporters are held to account."

    The president, who has been in power since 2002, accuses Rajoelina of trying to stir up a revolt.

    Calls for dialogue

    Ravalomanana said on private Radio Antsiva: "I am calling for national unity and dialogue. I urge the international community and churches to do all they can so that the two sides can come together.

    "If we manage [to have a dialogue], I promise that the problems will be solved quickly."

    Madagascar has a history of political violence.

    The run-up to the 2006 presidential elections won by Ravalomanana included a series of grenade explosions in the capital.

    In 2001, the country's presidential elections ended in violence and political crisis when then-president Ratsiraka refused to accept defeat.

    The island was split in two, with two capitals and two governments, until Ravalomanana was officially proclaimed president in May 2002.

    Ratsiraka, who ruled Madagascar for 25 years, is currently living in exile in France.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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