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Madagascar split as president holes up

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Madagascar split as president holes up

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It is a tense stand-off on the Indian island of Madagascar following yesterday’s seizure of the central bank and city-centre Presidential palace by the army.

It seems the majority has now had enough of the crisis and is backing the leader of the opposition, and life is attempting to continue as normal, with nervous parents taking their children to school this morning under the watchful eye of armed soldiers patriolling the streets. Last night the palace was stormed and President Ravalomanana fled to a second residence in the suburbs of Antananarivo, the capital, where he is protected by his presidential guard, and supporters who have thrown up a human shield around the complex. He has vowed to fight to the death if force is used to drive him from power. The fomer mayor of the capital Andry Rajoelina says the president has failed to fight against poverty and accuses him of running Madagascar like a private firm, claims that appear to have won him much support, but there are fears now the two sides are gearing up for civil war. “There’s a very big gap between rich and poor and the government is not doing enough about it. That’s the reason why people are protesting and the army is taking its responsibility,” says one local resident. Until now the army has traditionally remained neutral in past crises, but it appears it has been swayed by the presidential guards firing on unarmed protestors in February, which left many people dead and injured.