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AU suspends Madagascar's membership
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21:30, March 20, 2009

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The African Union (AU) decided on Friday to suspend Madagascar's membership, denouncing this week's change in the government there as a coup.

After a closed-door meeting on the situation in Madagascar, the AU Peace and Security Council made this decision as what happened in Madagascar constituted "unconstitutional change of government," said Bruno Nongoma Zidouemba, Burkina Faso's representative to the AU, referring to the forced resignation of Madagascar's President Marc Ravalomanana on Tuesday.

Ravalomanana on Tuesday stepped down and handed power to the military, which in turn transferred power to opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who had led months of protests.

The council has given this Indian Ocean island country six months' time to hold a general election, said Zidouemba, who is the council's chairman.

The AU has started to suspend the membership of any country where the government has been toppled by unconstitutional means. Two member states, Guinea and Mauritania, recently were suspended after the military took power.

However, it did not say whether Madagascar is allowed to host the next summit of the pan-African body in July.

Diplomats here said a decision would be made soon on whether Madagascar is allowed to host the summit.

Source: Xinhua

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