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Deposed mayor's supporters gather in front of city hall

Latest update : 2009-02-04

Hundreds of supporters of Andry Rajoelina - the mayor of Antananarivo removed from office by Madagascar's interior ministry earlier this week - rallied in front of the capital's city hall on Wednesday to protest his sacking.

AFP - Hundreds of supporters of Madagascar's sacked mayor Andry Rajoelina gathered Wednesday in front of his office to protest against his dismissal in the wake of rioting that killed 68 people.
  
Rajoelina, the new leader of the Indian Ocean island's opposition, was sacked Tuesday by the interior ministry and replaced as Antananarivo mayor by a provisional administration.
  
His dismissal came hours after he announced plans to unveil a transitional government on Saturday, having proclaimed himself in charge of the country's affairs and accused President Marc Ravalomanana of being a dictator.
  
Rajoelina also suffered another blow when the Constitutional Court declared itself incapable of ruling on his demand to have Ravalomanana removed.
  
"The competence of the Constitutional Court is limited to acknowledging the vacancy of the post of the president of the republic after an impeachment by the two chambers of parliament and a declaration of dismissal by the high court," the court said in a reply to his petition seen by AFP.
  
Addressing some 1,500 supporters, Rajoelina said he will not accept the leadership changes at the municipality and announced he had appointed a close ally to run the city.
  
"We will never accept the head of the special delegation. It is an insult to the people of Madagascar," Rajoelina said, referring to the city's new government-imposed leader.
  
His supporters backed his rejection of the city's new administration.
  
"I am annoyed. What Ravalomanana is doing is not at all normal. It is him who is looking for trouble," said a protestor who gave her name only as Josiane.
  
Another protestor, Dina, said: "If I am here it is because Ravalomanana should quit his office. I find it dictatorial to install a new administration in his (Rajoelina's) place."
  
The deposed mayor has also called for another rally on Saturday to unveil his transitional government.
  
However, his rallies have been drawing dwindling crowds compared to last week when thousands turned up.
  
The outspoken 34-year-old Rajoelina and Ravalomanana's regime have been on collision course since late last year, when the mayor's private television network was closed down by the authorities.
  
At least 68 people died in riots that erupted during protests called by Rajoelina to increase pressure on the president and his government.
  
Foreign powers and the United Nations have expressed concern over the political turmoil on the Indian Ocean island and appealed for calm.

Date created : 2009-02-04

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