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Madagascan police arrested 50 in operation to retake ministries
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21:18, February 20, 2009

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A senior government official confirmed on Friday that security forces retook control in the early hours of Friday of the four government ministries occupied by the opposition Thursday afternoon.

Authorities here said that armed troops guarding the government ministries fired in the air to disperse opposition vigilante groups before entering into the buildings of the ministries of interior, education, internal security as well as decentralization and regional management.

Supporters of the opposition leader Andry Rajoelina entered into buildings of the four ministries Thursday afternoon, claiming to have taken over power of the governmental ministries and departments.

"The ministries seized by the opposition have been re-taken and the surrounding barriers removed. Civil servants can return to their posts," Internal Security Minister Desire Rasolofomanana, appointed by President Marc Ravolomanana early last month, said in a televised statement Friday morning.

Viva, a private radio run by Rajoelina, said that 8 of his supporters were shot dead by the police, who denied the claim but confirmed that they arrested 50 opposition supporters during the operation.

A senior official of the Southern African Development Community delegation said on Thursday both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina had agreed to meet for talks.

The opposition leader accused President Ravalomanana as a dictator running the entire nation like his private business.

The current political crisis, the worst for years on the world's fourth largest island, began last December, when Ravalomanana ordered to close down Rajoelina's television and radio station.

Rajoelina proclaimed president of the country early in February, followed by a bloody riot that killed dozens of his followers.

Source:Xinhua



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