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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Black-out in Madagascar capital
Home in Antananarivo
The poor have suffered most in the dispute
Power has been lost to over 50% of homes in the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, following suspected political sabotage.

An electricity pylon has been destroyed in the eastern port city of Tamatave, where long-standing leader Didier Ratsiraka is based.

Didier Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka refuses to stand down
Antananarivo is the stronghold of Marc Ravalomanana, recognised by the United States on Wednesday as the legitimate president after disputed elections last December.

The BBC's Jonny Donovan says that this is the second such incident in two weeks.

Mr Ratsiraka has refused to accept his electoral defeat and the island remains divided.

No talks

The Organisation of African Unity and former colonial power France have not recognised either man as leader.

While recognising Mr Ravalomanana, the United States also called for political reconciliation.

But Mr Ravalomanana told the BBC's French service that he was no longer prepared to talk to Mr Ratsiraka.

Many bridges on roads leading to the capital were destroyed by Mr Ratsiraka's supporters in an attempt to isolate Mr Ravalomanana's government.

But Mr Ravalomanana's forces have now broken the blockades to the port cities of Mahajanga and Toliara.

The first major shipment of petrol arrived in Antanarivo on Wednesday.

Unfrozen

Our correspondent says that Mr Ratsiraka is faring badly in ongoing fighting in the north.

Marc Ravalomanana
Ravalomanana was smiling after US recognition

Correspondents say that other western countries look set to follow the US lead, with the possible exception of France.

But the American position is crucial as the bulk of Madagascar's cash assets are held at the US federal reserve.

US ambassador Wanda Nesbitt told our correspondent that it would take up to 14 days to unblock the $80m of foreign reserves.


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17 Jun 02 | Africa
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