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At Least Three Killed in Madagascar Clashes - 2002-03-27

At least three people were killed and 30 others injured Tuesday in Madagascar in clashes between security forces and supporters of self-appointed President Marc Ravalomanana.

Witnesses say the shooting occurred in the town of Fianarantsoa, which is 300 kilometers south of the capital, Antananarivo, when a group of opposition supporters tried to march to the house of the provincial governor.

They say the demonstrators clashed with a group of a military police, who opened fire.

Earlier, in Antananarivo, Jacques Sylla, the head of the opposition government, addressed a group of opposition lawmakers outlining his administration's program.

Mr. Sylla told about 60 members of 150-member parliament that he will enact free trade policies and reduce the government's role in the economy to help lift Madagascar from crushing poverty. He also promised continued good relations with former colonial power France and other countries.

Only lawmakers loyal to Mr. Sylla and to Mr. Ravalomanana attended Tuesday's speech as members of parliament loyal to internationally-recognized President Didier Ratsiraka boycotted the session.

A dispute over the results of last December's presidential election escalated into a bitter power struggle last month, when Mr. Ravalomanana announced he had won the election outright and declared himself head of state.

Mr. Ravalomanana's supporters control the capital, while Mr. Ratsiraka continues to hold sway over the rest of the country.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.