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Madagascar president vows to resist rebel troops

President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar has vowed to fight to the death if rebel soldiers tried to...

Former President  of Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana. Picture: Marco Castro/UN Photo

President Marc Ravalomanana of <?xml:namespace prefix="u1"?><country-region u2:st="on"><?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Madagascar</country-region></country-region> has vowed to fight to the death if rebel soldiers tried to drive him from power.

Weeks of political turmoil have left Ravalomanana’s grip on power 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.

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 accused the president of running the country like a private company and has tapped into widespread public discontent with high levels of poverty.

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 watch events nervously.

Timeline

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