Soldiers in Madagascar's capital took over a presidential palace late
Monday, soon after opposition leader Andry Rajoelina called for the
arrest of President Marc Ravalomanana.
Mr. Ravalomanana was not in the palace when soldiers stormed it Monday evening and ordered everyone inside to leave.
The president has been sheltering at another palace elsewhere in the
capital, Antananarivo. The Associated Press says soldiers at that
location have told the president's supporters to take down barriers.
However, the AP says it is not clear whether soldiers intend to move
Meanwhile, the French News Agency quotes a top security official who
says several members of Mr. Ravalomanana's 500-member presidential
guard have defected.
Earlier Monday, Rajoelina called for security forces to arrest Mr. Ravalomanana on charges of high treason.
Rajoelina accuses the president of turning into a dictator and has called repeatedly for him to resign.
The president has rejected those demands.
On Monday, President Ravalomanana offered to hold a referendum to
determine who will lead the Indian Ocean island. Rajoelina quickly
rejected that offer.
The Peace Corps has announced it has temporarily suspended its program
in Madagascar and is in the process of evacuating its volunteers. The
organization cites ongoing security concerns.
The African Union said Monday that the opposition's efforts to remove the president amount to an attempted coup d'etat.
Benin's AU envoy, Edouard Alo-Glele, told reporters that the African
body condemns the actions and elements that are threatening
Rajoelina has led weeks of protests against the president in the
capital. More than 100 people have died in the demonstrations, many at
the hands of government security forces.
Rajoelina has proclaimed himself the island's leader and says he is in control of the armed forces.
Last week, he named Monja Roindefo as the new prime minister in his
parallel government and promised to hold new elections within two