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Police Use Tear Gas to Break Up Madagascar Protest


Security forces in Madagascar have fired tear gas and warning shots to break up a protest by supporters of ousted president Marc Ravalomanana.

His followers tried to march through the center of the capital, Antananarivo, on Thursday in defiance of a ban on political rallies imposed by the man who replaced him, President Andry Rajoelina.

The new government issued the ban on Tuesday, a day after two people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-Ravalomanana protesters.

Meanwhile, the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders condemned what it called "the return of censorship to Madagascar." It said it is "disturbed" that Mr. Rajoelina's government has ordered state-owned media not to cover opposition protests.

The group also said the government has shut down privately-owned radio and television stations Radio Mada and Tele Mada supportive of Mr. Ravalomanana.

In a statement issued late Wednesday from South Africa, Mr. Ravalomanana rejected the idea of sharing power with Mr. Rajoelina and said he plans to return to Madagascar "in the coming weeks."

Supporters of the ousted leader have held almost daily demonstrations demanding that he be returned to power.

Mr. Ravalomanana resigned last month under pressure from military chiefs. He was replaced by Mr. Rajoelina, a former opposition leader who had organized weeks of street protests aimed at toppling Mr. Ravalomanana.

Madagascar's Supreme Court ruled the transition was legal, but the international community has condemned the takeover as a coup.

Both the African Union and the Southern African Development Community have suspended Madagascar.


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

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