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Madagascan opposition fails to take over presidency

MADAGASCAN opposition leader Andry Rajoelina failed to take over the presidency after 6pm (1500 GMT) yesterday as he threatened to do so earlier on the day.

Addressing a mass gathering after lunch time, Rajoelina gave a four-hour ultimatum to resign peacefully after which he would go to the presidential palace to take over the presidency.

He would go to the presidential palace not for negotiation but to say goodbye to President Marc Ravalomanana, said the sacked Antananarivo mayor.

Guarding by armed soldiers, Rajoelina told tens of thousands of his supporters that he would first send a delegation to the presidential palace before he was going to take over.

"The light is almost arrived in our country, and the darkness prepares to leave us," Rajoelina told the gathering, attended also by senior government officials including President of the National Assembly Jacques Sylla.

This is the first time for Rajoelina to show himself in public since March 4, when President Ravalomanana ordered the police and the armed forces to go to street to restore peace and order in the capital city.

The opposition leader has lived in French embassy for some days and then shifted to another secured place to avoid any attempt to kill him.

However, on Friday, Ravalomanana also attacked a group of persons who had gone "beyond the legal framework and seek to deprive him of his life".

Meeting four leaders of the influential Christian Council of Churches of the Indian Ocean island country, Ravalomanana said that "the international community does not condone the coup" in his country.

On the claim of Ravalomanana, Rajoelina told his supporters that he would ensure the security of the president.

"As a fervent Christian, I promise that I will not kill him and I will order my supporters not to kill him. The owner of life is only God," Rajoelina said.

However, he added, Madagascar has a law and Ravalomanana should be sent to justice according to the law in the country.

Rajoelina expressed his thanks to the armed forces for their love to the fatherland, when they decided to support the demonstration of the people.

Rajoelina told the gathering that the prime minister of his transitional government, Monja Roindefo, and Charles Rabemananjara, the prime minister under President Ravalomanana, transferred their power in a democratic way Thursday evening and "I want that this will happen between me and Ravalomanana".

On yesterday morning, Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara's office was taken over by Monja Roindefo, the prime minister appointed by Rajoelina early last month.

Shortly after, Roindefo said at a press conference held at the prime minister's office that the takeover was going on calmly and smoothly.

Rajoelina, the self-proclaimed presidents of "the High Authority of Transition", congratulated Roindefo for the takeover operation.

Rajoelina called his supporter to go to the May 13 Square again today with white shirts to express their thanks to god.

Following the change of attitude of Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara, Jacques Sylla, president of the National Assembly, and other senior government officials have also changed their sides.

Explaining reasons for his change of position, Sylla said that he decided to support the opposition due to his conscience and his desire to keep the national solidarity.


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