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Madagascar army calls for end to political crisis

Antananarivo, Madagascar | AFP | Madagascar’s defence minister has appealed to warring political parties to reach an agreement, as anti-government protests in the capital continued for a twelth day.

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has refused to yield to opposition demands that he resign, seven months ahead of a general election.

The opposition accuses the government of trying to elbow them out of the race, through new electoral laws they claim benefit the incumbent.

“We, the law enforcement officials, call loud and clear for the leaders of the political parties involved in the current crisis to be responsible and find a solution as soon as possible,” said Defence Minister, General Beni Xavier Rasolofonirina.

“We appeal to all citizens, without exception, to no longer be manipulated by the policies,” added the defence minister, who read from a statement signed by the heads of the army and police.

“It’s enough bloodshed, loss of human life, do not make selfishness and greed reasons to sacrifice our compatriots.”

The protests erupted nearly two weeks ago in Antananarivo and on the first day two people were killed and at least 16 people wounded, with the police accused of firing real bullets at the crowd.

The large Indian Ocean island, which has been beset by decades of political instability, is due to hold polls in late November or December.

Rajaonarimampianina has not yet announced whether he will stand for re-election.

Two former heads of state have already said they will be candidates: Marc Ravalomanana, who was president from 2002 to 2009, and Andry Rajoelina, who removed Ravalomanana during a coup.

Both were barred from running in 2013 and their parties have been involved in the demonstrations.

Representatives of both the president’s party and of the opposition met on Wednesday to try to find a solution to the crisis.

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