Army Seizes Presidential Palace in Madagascar

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2009 1:20 PM CDT
In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, demonstrators gather at central Antananarivo to support opposition leader Andry Rajoelina Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009.   (AP Xinhua, Liu Fang)
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(Newser) – Explosions rang out in Madagascar’s capital today, as the army stormed and easily captured the presidential palace at the center of the city. The building appeared deserted, according to an AP reporter, who saw armored vehicles roll through the normally ceremonial palace gates. One colonel said it wasn’t an attack on the president, who was in another palace nine miles away at the time, but merely an attempt to control the building.

But the soldiers did belong to Madagascar’s “new” army, a faction that has declared that it won’t abide President Marc Ravalomanana’s leadership any longer. The raid follows weeks of unrest, and calls from opposition leader Andry Rajoelina for the army to arrest the president, and the army’s self-declared head agreeing. The African Union has condemned the “attempted coup d’etat.”