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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 22:31 GMT
Madagascar capital hit by violence
Buildings of Radio Tsiokavao
Buildings of Radio Tsiokavao were set on fire
Two people were seriously injured and a radio station was burned to the ground during political violence in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo on Wednesday.

Calm returned to the city after supporters of incumbent president Didier Ratsiraka clashed with followers of Marc Ravalomanana, who says he won December's presidential election.

Marc Ravalomanana at Friday's 'inauguration' rally
Mr Ravalomanana insists he won December's poll
A BBC correspondent in Antananarivo says the military has not intervened so far, but that public order is disintegrating.

This was the first violence the capital has seen in several weeks of massive demonstrations by opposition supporters protesting about the disputed election.

The military kept a low-profile throughout the day, apparently to avoid provoking further trouble.

Mr Ratsiraka has said he will address the nation on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Leila Ratsifandriamanana meanwhile announced her resignation after the failure of negotiations with the international community aimed at resolving the crisis over the disputed election.

Two leaders

The capital has been paralysed for several weeks by demonstrations in support of Mr Ravalomanana, who claims to have won the poll.

President Didier Ratsiraka
President Ratsiraka denies the counting was rigged

On Friday, he declared himself president and began setting up a rival administration by appointing a prime minister on Tuesday.

Mr Ratsiraka's government immediately gave itself extra powers to try to counter his claim.

But no action was taken to prevent mass demonstrations in the capital or to arrest Mr Ravalomanana.

Although the violence on Wednesday was the first in the capital, an opposition supporter was shot dead in the interior of the country earlier this week.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead
"The tension erupted into running street battles"
The BBC's Jim Fish
"Violence finally engulfed the capital"
See also:

27 Feb 02 | Africa
Riots rock Madagascar
26 Feb 02 | Africa
Rival Madagascar premier named
25 Feb 02 | Africa
Violence flares in Madagascar
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