The main opposition leader in Madagascar has made his boldest challenge yet to the nation's leadership, declaring to thousands of supporters that he is in charge of the country.

Speaking at an anti-government rally Saturday in the capital, Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina said he was now giving orders and called on the central bank not to deliver funds to the government and for ministries to close as of Monday.

No reaction to the comments was available from the government.

This latest demonstration comes after a week of political protests throughout Madagascar that officials say left at least 68 people dead.

Rajoelina, the 34-year-old mayor of the capital, led a similar protest Thursday as most businesses and schools closed down.

Rajoelina and his supporters say President Marc Ravalomanana has become too authoritarian in making decisions.

Anti-government rallies turned deadly earlier in the week. Police said 44 people were killed Monday. Foreign diplomats are quoted by news agencies as saying up to 100 people have been killed in the unrest.

Tensions erupted earlier this month when the government shut down a television station run by Rajoelina, a decision that was recently reversed.

The international community is urging talks between the president and the mayor.

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