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Madagascar Opposition Urges Strike Wednesday

Madagascar's opposition leader has called for a general strike Wednesday, the date President Marc Ravalomanana has set for a rally in the capital.

Opposition chief Andry Rajoelina, who is trying to topple the president, held his own rally before several thousand people Tuesday in Antananarivo.

He called on residents of the capital to stay home Wednesday, when Mr. Ravalomanana plans to address his supporters in a downtown stadium.

Tuesday's opposition rally was peaceful, unlike Saturday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators marching toward the presidential palace. At least 28 people were killed.

Defense Minister Cecile Manorohanta resigned after the bloodshed, saying she can no longer be part of the government. The president has replaced her with his chief of military staff, Mamy Ranaivoniarivo.

A United Nations envoy sent to Madagascar met with President Ravalomanana late Monday. The U.N. says both the president and opposition leader Rajoelina have said they are committed to starting a U.N.-facilitated dialogue.

More than 100 people in Madagascar have been killed in anti-government demonstrations that began late last month.

Rajoelina accuses the president of becoming too authoritarian. He has declared himself the new leader of the island nation, and announced a so-called transitional authority on Saturday.

President Ravalomanana says he remains in charge. The government removed Rajoelina as mayor of the capital last week, although Rajoelina does not recognize the move.

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