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Madagascar Defense Minister Resigns After Bloodshed

Madagascar's defense minister has resigned, after the deaths of at least 28 people during anti-government protests Saturday.

Cecile Manorohanta said Monday, that she can no longer be a part of the government, and extends her condolences to the families of those killed in the protests.

More than 200 other people were wounded Saturday when presidential guards started shooting into a crowd of marchers.

The government has named the chief of military staff, Mamy Ranaivoniarivo, as Madagascar's new defense minister.

Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina has vowed to continue demonstrations that began last month. Rajoelina accuses President Marc Ravalomanana of being too authoritarian.

The African Union said Monday it is sending an envoy to Madagascar, former Ivory Coast Foreign Affairs Minister Amara Essy, in an effort to calm the situation.

Sunday, thousands gathered in a gymnasium to mourn the victims of Saturday's violence, which took place as marchers approached the presidential palace.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement deploring the violence and what he calls lack of restraint. He has also sent an envoy, Haile Menkerios.

More than 100 people have been killed during anti-government protests since the demonstrations began about two weeks ago.

Last week, government officials fired Rajoelina from his post as mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. Rajoelina rejected the move and appealed to both the Constitutional Court and parliament to remove the president from office.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.