Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

Africa

President Ravalomanana pledges to resist coup attempt

Video by Luke BROWN

Latest update : 2009-03-17

A spokesman for Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana, who has fled the capital, told Reuters on Monday that the president refused to resign and was ready to die along with his guards. Meanwhile, soldiers stormed the presidential palace.

Reuters - President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar has vowed to fight to the death if rebel soldiers try to drive him from power in the Indian Ocean island.

Weeks of political turmoil have left Ravalomanana’s grip on power looking increasingly tenuous, and on Monday soldiers threw their support behind the opposition leader and stormed a presidential palace in the heart of the capital.

A spokesman for the president’s office said Ravalomanana would never resign and was ready to die along with the loyal guards defending his grand residence outside the city centre.

“The president’s powers are now limited, obviously. This is becoming a military coup,” said spokesman Andry Ralijaona.

“The president plans to stay in Madagascar. He said this to the presidential guard, who told him he should be placed elsewhere, and he replied ‘I will die with you if I have to’.  That’s his stand,” Ralijaona told Reuters late on Monday.

Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina has been leading public protests against Ravalomanana’s rule since the start of the year and said on Monday he was impatient to take office.

Rajoelina, 34, a former disc jockey who was sacked as Antananarivo’s mayor last month, accuses the president of running the country like a private company and has tapped into widespread public discontent with high levels of pove

rty.

The president’s supporters say Rajoelina is a troublemaker bent on seizing power illegally.

At least 135 people have died in violence sparked by the political crisis, the $390 million-a-year tourism sector is collapsing, and foreign investors in the important mining and oil exploration sectors are watching events nervously.

 
CIVIL WAR

The military in Madagascar has traditionally remained neutral in past bouts of political turbulence, but dissident officers staged a mutiny last week, ousted the chief of staff and said publicly on Monday that they were backing Rajoelina.

Soon afterwards, bursts of gunfire and explosions rocked the capital as tanks burst into the grounds of a presidential palace in the city centre and seized the central bank.

“We are there for the Malagasy people. If Andry Rajoelina can resolve the problem, we are behind him,” said Colonel Andre Ndriarijaona, who led the mutiny.

The president’s spokesman outlined a series of options left to Ravalomanana—all potentially violent.

He said members of the army still loyal to the president could show their disagreement with the mutineers; remaining army loyalists could join forces with the dissidents and take on the presidential guards; or the people who still backed Ravalomanana could start a civil war.

The fourth option was for the president to seek military and administrative support from the international community.

“This option has been discussed with both SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the U.N.,” Ralijaona said.

“He wants to stay with the people. He took an oath at his swearing in and he feels to step down would be a betrayal.”  
 

Date created : 2009-03-17

COMMENT(S)