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Madagascan president rejects opposition demand to resign
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09:02, March 16, 2009

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Madagascan President Ravalomanana categorically rejected on Sunday the opposition demand for him to resign, saying that he would win the on-going struggle against his rival Andry Rajoelina.

"Do not be afraid, only believe, I do not resign", Ravalomanana told a crowd of several thousand of his supporters outside the presidential palace following an ecumenical worship Sunday morning.

"God is the owner of power, He is the owner of my power and my life and the people elected me, if He (the God) does not accept me, I would not remain in power," the besieged president said.

"I take opportunity in this worship to tell you that we will prevail in this struggle if we will not leave God.

He informed his supporters that someone advised him to flee abroad and gave him the opportunity but "I decided to remain with you."

He appealed to the armed forces to remain neutral and called his supporters to respect democracy and wait for next national election in 2012 "if somebody wants to make a coup".

"I know your concern about the soldiers who will arrest me and follow by a coup", said Ravalomanana.

He appealed to the armed forces to return to legality, adding that "you are wise and I think that you will return to respect the law".

He admitted that "an independence of Madagascar is over 50 years and democracy in this country is still soft".

The opposition led by Andry Rajoelina claimed to have support of the armed forces in its anti-government activities.

Ravalomanana, who was first elected as president of the island country in a national election at the end of 2001 and began his second 5-year term at the beginning of 2007, preferred a national referendum, if necessary, to solve the current political crisis, the worst in years in Madagascar.

"I am ready to hold a national referendum if necessary to resolve the current crisis," he said.

The President said that he was confident in the legitimacy of his presidency and his popularity among the Madagascan people to express themselves.

The gesture of the president represented a challenge to his rival Andry Rajoelina, who has claimed to be "the spokesman of the people" ever since the political stalemate began last December.

Almost at the same time when Ravalomanana was speaking, Rajoelina said, also at a worship, that he would not mix religion with politics.

Rajoelina called his supporters to come to an anti-government gathering again on Monday, during which he would announce "big things", but he did not elaborate.

Source: Xinhua

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