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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Madagascar soldiers stage pay protest
Pro-Ravalomanana generals
The soldiers want to be paid by both sides
Madagascar's political crisis took a new turn on Thursday when military forces loyal to the new President Marc Ravalomanana clashed with dozens of soldiers demanding more pay.


We're going to smash all the roadblocks and establish our administration across the territory.

Jules Mamizara
Defence Minister

Shots were fired into the air to disperse the soldiers who had stormed the ministry of defence, but there were no reports of casualties.

The Madagascar army, like the rest of the Indian Ocean island, is split over the results of last December's presidential election.

A court ruling gave victory to Marc Ravalomanana but the incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka has refused to recognise the ruling.

Double pay

The BBC's Jonny Donovan in Antananarivo says the soldiers had received double pay - from both Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana camps - in April.

He says they were again demanding their May pay from Mr Ravalomanana's government after being paid their salaries by the Ratsiraka administration.

Didier Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka is refusing to stand down

Quoting a pro-Ravalomanana military officer, the French news agency, AFP, says the troops fired over the heads of the demonstrating soldiers after a few of them had started throwing stones.

The clash came a day after troops loyal to Marc Ravalomanana threatened to use military force to remove roadblocks erected by supporters of his rival to isolate the island's capital, Antananarivo.

Mr Ratsiraka and his cabinet have been working from the east coast port of Tamatave for the past two months.

Mr Ravalomanana's Defence Minister Jules Mamizara warned on Wednesday:

"We're going to smash all the roadblocks and establish our administration across the territory to bring normal life back to Madagascar."

Prime Minister Tantely Andrianarivoa being arrested on Monday
Forces loyal to Ravalomanana are trying to establish their authority

The Ratsiraka camp set up the blockade of Antananarivo in February in order to choke off supplies to Mr Ravalomanana's stronghold.

On Monday, military forces loyal to the newly appointed president arrested Didier Ratsiraka's Prime Minister, Tantely Andrianarivoa, during an early morning commando raid.


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27 May 02 | Africa
17 May 02 | Africa
07 May 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
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