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Madagascar Opposition Plans New Rally as Mayor Calls for Transitional Government

In Madagascar, opposition leaders are planning to hold another anti-government rally Saturday in the capital. This comes as the mayor of the city called for a transitional government to replace what he says is a corrupt regime.

Inhabitants of Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, say life had mostly returned to normal Friday as shops and offices re-opened and public transportation resumed operation.

However, some residents were anxious over the announcement of a new opposition rally on Saturday in the city's main square. A similar rally earlier this week led to two days of violence in which dozens of people were killed, most of them looters.

Opposition parties Friday issued a joint-declaration expressing support for the new rally and its leader, Mayor Andry Rajoelina.

Rajoelina said in an interview with VOA's French Service the county's constitution is not respected and the people feel betrayed by the government of President Marc Ravalomanana. He says the people's primary demand is for a transitional government and the resignation of the government and president so that we can really govern the country.

Rajoelina in particular denounced the government's sale and lease of public land and its purchase of a $60 million presidential jet in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Mr. Ravalomanana accused opposition politicians of instigating the violence in order to destabilize the country and his government.

Rajoelina, his rival, said most of the violence was the work of outsiders. He condemns the violence, saying troublemakers were paid to sack and loot in order to worsen the situation.

Both the mayor and the president have called for calm and said they would hold talks over the confrontation.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, Rodney Ford, said his government is concerned about the violence and calls for an immediate resumption of dialogue.

"The Untied States reaffirms its commitment to Madagascar's democratic development, emphasizing that calm and dialogue be restored in order to effectively pursue development," he said. "We expect all parties in this conflict to respect the constitution of Madagascar as they try to resolve their differences."

The violence erupted after the government closed a radio station owned by the mayor. This followed a rally during which Rajoelina accused the government of corruption and authoritarianism.