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Rallies in support of feuding Madagascar factions

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Rallies in support of feuding Madagascar factions

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The feuding political factions in Madagascar have held separate demonstrations to rally support as tensions on the island rise even further.

Pro-government supporters took to the streets of the capital to hear President Marc Ravalomanana offer to hold a referendum to end the crisis. But he ignored opposition calls to resign. The opposition moved into the prime minister’s office without resistance on Saturday and said it had installed its own premier. Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina also claimed to have the backing of Madagascar’s army and said he was poised to take control. There has been no confirmation of this – the military traditionally remains neutral in disputes. The African Union has also weighed into the argument, reiterating appeals for a negotiated solution to the conflict to be found. The island has been rocked by weeks of violent demonstrations as supporters of Rajoelina press for the current president to quit. The worst bloodshed was in the capital on February 7 when security forces, including the presidential guard, shot at least 28 protesters dead.