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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 01:18 GMT 02:18 UK
Madagascar's rival leader expands rule
Marc Ravalomanana
Ravalomanana claims to have won December's election
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Alastair Leithead
By Alastair Leithead
BBC correspondent in Antananarivo

In Madagascar, the second of the island's six provinces is now officially under the control of self-declared president Marc Ravalomanana.

His own appointed governor has been sworn into office.

Veteran leader Didier Ratsiraka
Mr Ratsiraka has gone to France, but it is not clear when he will return
But there is little sign yet of the agreement that was signed by Mr Ravalomanana and incumbent president Didier Ratsiraka in Dakar being implemented.

The plan had been hailed as a solution to the worsening political crisis.

However nothing has happened on the ground so far and there is confusion about the details of the plan.

Promises, promises?

It was a short and peaceful ceremony with no sign of the violence of the past two weeks, but the inauguration of the new pro-Ravalomanana governor of Fianarantsoa marked an important step in the self-declared president's assumption of power across Madagascar.

Map of Madagascar
He now controls two of the country's six provinces and has come back from the talks in Senegal with a piece of paper that signs over a series of concessions from the incumbent president.

It is now a matter of waiting to see whether those promises are kept.

Mr Ravalomanana has said he will replace pro-Ratsiraka governors in all of the provinces with his own people.

The fact that he has achieved this in Fianarantsoa after there was a military confrontation and bloodshed in the city, suggests he is beginning to gain the upper hand outside his heartland in the capital Antananarivo.

Mr Ratsiraka has flown to Paris and it is not known when he will return.

Protesters during a general strike
Protests have been rife since the December election
To keep his side of the deal, the blockades which have isolated Antananarivo for months must be lifted, and a recount of the December election allowed to go ahead.

The precise details of the Dakar accord is still unknown and with no practical action taken so far, hope that the agreement could bring this crisis to a swift conclusion is wavering.

See also:

20 Apr 02 | Africa
Annan backs Madagascar deal
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar cautious on peace deal
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar's flawed accord
18 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar rivals sign peace deal
17 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar court annuls election
15 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar violence spreads north
05 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar 'at war'
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