Madagascar Army seized a presidential palace and the central bank
Soldiers in Madagascar seized a presidential palace and the central bank on Monday in a show of force further isolating President Marc Ravalomanana in his power struggle with opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, Reuters reported.
Soldiers stormed the buildings in the heart of the capital straight after the security forces publicly backed Rajoelina, who says the president is an autocrat running the Indian Ocean island like a private company.
Under growing pressure to resign, Ravalomanana offered on Monday to hold a referendum and let the people decide who should run the country, but Rajoelina rejected the call and asked the security forces to arrest the president.
Ravalomanana is holed up in another presidential palace about 10 kms (6 miles) from the city centre. The army said it had no orders to attack the president's residence.
"The palace is occupied. This was our mission for today. For now, we have no more orders," an army colonel, who declined to be named, told Reuters inside the palace complex.
Madagascar's army has traditionally remained neutral during bouts of political volatility, but its backing of Rajoelina seems to have boxed Ravalomanana into a corner.
"A referendum looks like history now. It looks like the people and the army are with Rajoelina," said Lydie Boka, an analyst at New York-based company Strategie Co.
There was no immediate comment from Ravalomanana or Rajoelina.