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Reports: Madagascan army gives power to opposition leader
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08:30, March 18, 2009

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Madagascan army on Tuesday gave power to opposition leader Andry Rajoelina as president of the transitional authorities, according to agencies' reports.

Vice Admiral Hyppolite Ramaroson was quoted as saying at a ceremony in a military camp that Rajoelina has been given the power to oversee the transition.

Ramaroson added that top generals of the military have rejected the proposal of President Marc Ravalomanana earlier to transfer power to a military committee.

Ravalomanana said earlier in the day that he had resigned and handed over power to the military, but the decision was rejected by the opposition and the armed forces later.

In a presidential degree issued on Tuesday, Ravalomanana agreed to transfer his power to the oldest in the highest military rank, who would lead a Military Executive Board.

The leader of Malgache opposition Andry Rajoelina delivers a speech at a presidential palace in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, March 17, 2009. Andry Rajoelina announced Tuesday morning that ministers he had named for his government of transition would immediately start take over their ministries with their advisors.

The military would be in charge of the functions of the president and prime minister under the constitution, according to the degree.

A military vehicle, loyal to the opposition party, parks in front of a presidential palace in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, March 17, 2009

The rebel armed forces detained four military generals and one Christian church leader following a meeting between the generals, Rajoelina and the Christian Church leaders on Tuesday afternoon, in which the opposition was informed of the president's decision.

The African Union (AU) on Tuesday evening urged the Malagasy parties to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Ravalomanana, who resigned under the pressure from the opposition and the armed forces.

The pan-African body requested that all necessary measures "betaken to ensure the safety of the president and his family, his associates, respect for individual and collective freedom and prevent any act of violence or intimidation and protect property," said a communique issued after an emergency meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council.

The political stalemate between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, the worst for years in the country, began last December when Ravalomanana ordered to shut down the radio and television station owned to Rajoelina.


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