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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 11:02 GMT
Violence flares in Madagascar
Ravalomanana supporters
The capital is in the hands of Ravalomanana supporters
A TV and radio station in Madagascar's second city, Fianarantsoa, has been destroyed in the first reports of violence since a presidential election dispute deteriorated markedly on Friday.

A curfew from 2100 to 0500 has been introduced in the city, some 180 kilometres from the capital.

A pro-government MP was also attacked and the military broke up a victory carnival for opposition supporters in the north-east of the country, arresting three people.

It is now three days since Marc Ravalomanana declared himself president of the island, and the government introduced what is essentially a state of emergency to counter his claim to power.

But as yet, none of these new state powers have come into force in the capital, Mr Ravalomanana's stronghold.

Demonstrations and blockades are continuing there, but the protests remain peaceful.

Dispute

Mr Ravalomanana, believes he was cheated in elections in December. He beat the long-time incumbent president Didier Ratsiraka, but not by a big enough margin to win outright.
Crisis timeline
16 Dec - Presidential election held
7 Jan - Opposition claim rigging, begin daily protests
16 Jan - Court orders vote recount
25 Jan - Result announced, run-off ordered
28 Jan - Opposition strike begins
22 Feb - Ravalomanana declares himself president, PM announces state of emergency

Mr Ravolamanana has proposed a referendum to resolve the election dispute which has sparked weeks of strikes and mass demonstrations.

Mr Ratsiraka is reported to have left the capital for his stronghold in the east of the island, and has made no public pronouncements since Friday.

Demonstrations are now banned under the state of emergency and the government is empowered to requisition all public services and take total control over the media, the post and telephone service.

Mr Ratsiraka has said that the opposition leader's campaign is illegal and unconstitutional.

President Didier Ratsiraka
President Ratsiraka denies the counting was rigged

The United States has also criticised Mr Ravalomanana's unilateral move and urged him to reconsider his actions.

Talks chaired by the Organisation of African Unity to settle the stalemate over the elections and the widespread evidence of fraud have failed to produce an agreement.

The election run-off has been postponed until 24 March.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alastair Leithead
"A television and radio station was destroyed by fire"
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