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Thousands Protest Against New Madagascar Leader


Opponents of Madagascar's new president, Andry Rajoelina, demonstrated Monday against the army-backed removal of his predecessor.

Witnesses say the estimated 3,000 protesters gathered at a park in the capital, Antananarivo, chanting slogans against Mr. Rajoelina, who was sworn in as president last week.

A spokesman for the party of former President Marc Ravalomanana says it cannot accept Mr. Rajoelina's seizure of power.

Mr. Rajoelina, who had been mayor of the capital city, took over the presidency after weeks of protests and a loss of military support forced President Ravalomanana to resign.

Many nations say Mr. Rajoelina's assumption of power was nothing less than a coup. The African Union suspended Madagascar's membership Friday, and the United States and Norway have cut all non-humanitarian aid.

Mr. Rajoelina has said he will hold elections within 24 months - a timeframe that former colonial power France has criticized as too long.

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

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