Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Madagascar security forces fire tear gas at protesters

Andry Rajoelina in front of soldier (file photo)
Andry Rajoelina (L) says attempts to convene parliament are illegal

Security forces in Madagascar have fired tear gas at opposition leaders and supporters outside parliament.

It came after Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina abandoned a power-sharing peace deal after appointing a military prime minister.

The flare-up happened outside the national assembly in the capital, Antanarivo, where the opposition hopes to form a new parliament.

Mr Rajoelina, a former DJ, came to power with military backing in March.

Riot police had surrounded the assembly building from early morning.

Political turmoil

Reuters news agency reported that the crowd of protesters was quickly dispersed although a few small groups remained taunting the police.

Dozens killed in protests sparked after President Ravalomanana shuts opposition media groups
Opposition figurehead Andry Rajoelina sacked as mayor of Antananarivo
Army mutiny, Mr Ravalomanana resigns and flees country; Mr Rajoelina takes over, African Union suspends Madagascar
Power-sharing deal signed, later breached by Mr Rajoelina
New power-sharing deal, breached by Mr Rajoelina in December

One protester, Fanja Rakotoson, told Reuters: "We have lost our jobs because of the crisis but the government won't listen to us even though it preaches about democracy. It's shameful."

Madagascar has been riven by political turmoil for almost a year, with Mr Rajoelina taking power after weeks of protests which saw dozens of people lose their lives.

In the statement announcing that he was scrapping the power-sharing deal, Mr Rajoelina warned this meant that any opposition attempt to convene parliament would be illegal.

The consensus Prime Minister, Eugene Mangalaza, was sacked by Mr Rajoelina on Friday and replaced by Col Vital Albert Camille.

Mr Mangalaza's sacking came just a day after Mr Rajoelina called a parliamentary election for 20 March 2010.

But local observers, quoted by Reuters, have expressed concerns that an election organised unilaterally by a military-led government will lack credibility.

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