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COUP D'ETAT : Military officers in Madagascar say they have taken over the island nation.Col Charles Andrianasoavina, who made the announcement, was one of the officers behind a coup that brought Andre Rajoelina to power last year.
 
ANTSIRANANA 101117-1
November 17, 2010

[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] Madagascar officers in coup claim
A resident of the Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, casts her vote on 17 November The coup announcement came as Madagascans were voting in a referendum on a new constitution
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Military officers in Madagascar say they have taken over the island nation.

Col Charles Andrianasoavina, who made the announcement, was one of the officers behind a coup that brought Andre Rajoelina to power last year.

The situation is unclear but Reuters news agency quoted military police chief as saying other senior officers would intervene if it was a mutiny.

The announcement came as Malagasies voted in a referendum on a controversial new constitution.

Madagascar has been beset by instability for several years.

Mr Rajoelina has been diplomatically isolated since coming to power and has ignored attempts by regional mediators to broker a consensus with the opposition.
'Reconciliation'
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“Start Quote

The people of Madagascar are suffering the consequences of false pride”

End Quote Col Charles Andrianasoavina

The officers said they had dissolved government institutions and formed a military committee.

According to the AP news agency, Col Andrianasoavina said the officers wanted national reconciliation.

He said Malagasies were tired of waiting for a resolution to the political crisis.

"Alas the different parties continue to hold onto their respective positions, and the people of Madagascar are suffering the consequences of false pride," the agency quotes his statement as saying.

Correspondents say the colonel made his announcement at a military base near the capital's airport.

The BBC's former correspondent in Madagascar Jonny Hogg says Col Andrianasoavina was in the Capsat regiment that toppled President Marc Ravalomanana in March 2009.

It is unclear how powerful that regiment now is.

There has been no sign of any major military deployments and public television and radio have continued with normal broadcasting, AFP news agency reports.

A witness told Reuters said it was calm outside the presidential palace in capital, Antananarivo.

Members of the security forces on the streets have been monitoring voting in the referendum, the agency reports.
Age limit change
Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina A former DJ, Andry Rajoelina took power in a coup in March 2009

The new constitution would allow the current leader, President Rajoelina, to stay in power as long as it takes to organise an election.

It would also lower the age limit for presidential candidates from 40 to 35 years, allowing the 36-year-old to stand.

Mr Rajoelina, who has said he will not run for president, has organised huge rallies in support of a yes vote.

All three of the main opposition groups, each led by an ex-president, called for a boycott of the vote.

They see the referendum as an attempt to legitimise Mr Rajoelina's position, which is only recognised by a few other countries.

Mr Rajoelina, a former DJ and mayor of the capital city, rose to power on wave of popular support.

But some analysts say his failure to end leadership squabbles has eroded some of his popularity.