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Soldiers in Madagascar End Barracks Mutiny

Government military officers runs outside the air-force base near the airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar, 20 Nov 2010

A four-day revolt by solders at an army base in Madagascar has ended with the surrender of the mutineers.

At least 100 loyalist troops stormed a base in Madagascar's capital, Antantananrivo, leading to the surrender (late Saturday) of some 16 senior officers, who, on Wednesday, had announced they were suspending the transitional government of President Andry Rajoelina.

A senior officer told reporters there had been no bloodshed, but that some junior officers initially had resisted.

The mutineers announced their coup on the day Malagasies voted on a new constitution, which would lead to elections next year.

Supporters hoped the new charter would end a political crisis provoked by a military-backed coup last year that brought Mr. Rajoelina to power.

The new charter was drafted by his supporters and some 100 small political groups.

But the referendum was boycotted by three main opposition parties, led by three former presidents, who said it violated a power-sharing agreement signed in Mozambique earlier this year. The accord collapsed over how to distribute senior posts.

The African Union, Southern Africa Development Community and most Western governments have rejected the referendum and called on Mr. Rajoelina to return to the negotiating table.

A local lawyer and political analyst, Sohandra Rebenarivo, said many voters did not bother to go to the polls.

"So many of us are very tired. And, we would like to move on, if only the parties could come together to make a political agreement," said Rebenarivo. "But, at the moment, there's mostly just a lot of pessimism and uncertainty, and it's very unfortunate."

Preliminary results showed the 'yes' vote winning the referendum on the new constitution, which would allow the transitional government to rule until elections are held. It also would lower the minimum age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35 years, which would allow the 36-year-old Mr. Rajoelina to run.

The transitional government Sunday postponed local elections due to be held next month.

The announcement came after police used tear gas to break up a demonstration by citizens protesting the election plans.