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Soldiers Mutiny in Madagascar


Soldiers at a Madagascar military base have mutinied, saying they will not accept orders to fire on opposition protesters.

Witnesses say soldiers rebelled Sunday at a base outside the capital, Antananarivo. Soldiers blocked roads to the compound.

One of the soldiers told reporters, "We are with the people." It is not clear how many soldiers have joined the mutiny.

Troops have been deployed around the capital for the last few days to stop anti-government demonstrations led by opposition leader Andry Rajoelina. Clashes between police and protesters killed four people last week.

On Saturday, authorities shut down Rajoelina's radio station, Radio Viva, as part of their crackdown.

Rajoelina has gone into hiding, saying he fears for his safety.

The 34-year-old opposition leader has led weeks of demonstrations against President Marc Ravalomanana, calling on the president to resign. Rajoelina accuses the president of becoming authoritarian, a charge the president has denied.

More than 100 people have been killed in the protests and rioting.

United Nations and African Union diplomats have tried to mediate talks between the two men but the talks broke off last week when Rajoelina walked out.

The opposition leader was mayor of the capital until the government dismissed him last month. Rajoelina is also a successful businessman who owns several media outlets in Madagascar.

It was the government's shutdown of Viva TV last December that triggered the country's political crisis.

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


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