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Madagascar Meeting - 2002-04-16

Madagascar's rival leaders are expected to meet soon for the first time in almost two months.

President Didier Ratsiraka and Antananarivo mayor, Marc Ravalomanana, who declared himself president in February, are traveling to Senegal to attend an international development conference.

Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade says he hopes to arrange a meeting between the men to prevent a breakup of the island nation in the Indian Ocean. However, Mr. Ravalomanana has said he will only discuss economic matters and not the possibility of a new election.

A disputed presidential election in December led to Madagascar's political crisis and rival governments.

The country's Supreme Court decided that neither candidate won a majority of the ballots, and ruled that a second round of voting would be necessary. President Ratsiraka accepted the decision, but Mr. Ravalomanana rejected it and later declared himself head of state and named a new government.

The international community has refused to recognize Mr. Ravalomanana's action.

At least 37 people were injured Monday when soldiers clashed with Ravalomanana supporters the northwest town of Mahajanga.