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Madagascar Army Replaces Chief After Ultimatum


Madagascar's army has replaced its own chief of staff, one day after he warned feuding leaders to resolve the nation's political crisis.

New army head Andre Andriarijaona told reporters Wednesday that his predecessor, General Edmond Rasolomahandry, had agreed to step aside after what he called "fraternal" negotiations.

Andriarijaona said the army was behind him and that its solidarity has been preserved.

The army chief is normally appointed by the president, Marc Ravalomanana.

On Tuesday, General Rasolomahandry warned the military would take over the island nation's affairs unless the president and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina resolved their differences within 72 hours.

Rajoelina has led weeks of anti-government protests, some of which turned violent and led to the deaths of more than 100 people.

On Sunday, troops based outside the capital, Antananarivo, said they would no longer shoot at opposition demonstrators.

Government supporters and opposition protesters clashed Tuesday near the residence of the French ambassador. The French news agency reports at least 19 people were injured.

A French foreign ministry spokesman said the French government had been housing Rajoelina, but that he later left the ambassador's residence.

Rajoelina accuses the president of turning into a dictator and has called for his resignation.

President Ravalomanana went on national television Tuesday, admitting to making mistakes and calling for national unity. He said a national conference would begin Thursday to find a solution to the crisis.

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

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