Two killed as new Malagasy premier assumes office

Antananarivo- Madagascar (PANA) -- Two persons were killed and about 40 others wounded Friday in a skirmish that followed the installation of Jacques Sylla, Madagascar's Prime Minister, appointed by self-proclaimed President Marc Ravalomanana.
Fighting broke out at Mahazoarivo Palace (the Prime Minister's office) between the Malagasy security forces and some elements who officials described as "troublemakers".
According to Ravalomanana's official spokesman Didier Rakotoarisoa, the incident was caused by some "extra elements" who cast stones at the troops guarding the area.
The soldiers used tear gas to bring the situation under control and the first victim died in the disturbance.
The second victim died later on the way to hospital.
Reports said supporters of Ravalomanana and members of his government, headed by Sylla himself, had marched from the 13 May Square to the Mahazoarivo Palace.
The demonstrators went through five military roadblocks before reaching the palace, located five kilometres from downtown Antananarivo.
Soldiers guarding the palace let Sylla and his officials in but barred the demonstrators, including journalists.
It was then that the skirmish broke out though the delegation reached the palace grounds without hindrance from the soldiers.
Youth and Sports Minister Ranjivason Theodore said the incoming administration and an adviser of outgoing Prime Minister Tantely Andrianarivo drew up an inventory of fixtures in the office.
Since the staff of Andrianarivo no longer occupied the offices, Theodore said the delegation had to negotiate with one of his advisers, Rinah Rakotomanga.

15 march 2002 20:51:00

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