(AFP) – Feb 17, 2009
ANTANANARIVO (AFP) — Thousands of Madagascan opposition protestors staged sit-ins Tuesday near buildings hosting the education, interior and foreign affairs ministries in the capital Antananarivo.
But anti-riot police blocked the crowd of around 5,000 demonstrators hundreds of metres (feet) from entering the offices, an AFP correspondent reported.
"The struggle continues. It should go until the end," said Andry Rajoelina, Antananarivo's former mayor embroiled in a power struggle with President Marc Ravalomanana.
Rajoelina made the comments at the city's main square where some 10,000 supporters had earlier gathered for a rally. He did not take part in the sit-in.
However, Defence Minister Mamy Ranaivoniarivo met Rajolina's representatives where the crowd was picketing.
He said street protests would not solve the Indian Ocean island's political crisis and invited the "prime minister" Rajoelina named in a rival government for talks.
The protestors then dispersed peacefully. Fresh sit-ins have been called for on Wedensday.
On Monday, police fired warning shots to disperse opposition protestors who gathered at the main square with no casualties reported.
Madagascar has been gripped by political turmoil since late last month when Rajoelina, who has declared himself in charge of the country's affairs, called for demonstrations.
The unrest has claimed nearly 100 lives, including 28 protestors who were shot dead by presidential guards in February 7.
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