Madagascar 'coup' prompts warnings

Nov. 18, 2010 at 10:06 AM
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LONDON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Political unrest in Madagascar means British citizens should exercise vigilance following a Wednesday referendum, the British government said.

Presidential authorities in Madagascar dismissed claims of a military coup after 7 million voters on the island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa cast ballots on a new constitution.

Col. Charles Andrianasoavina, who announced the government takeover, was one of the officers who put President Andry Rajoelina in power in March 2009.

Andrianasoavina said the rebels had dissolved government institutions and formed a military committee. He said they stood for national reconciliation, freedom for political prisoners and the return of exiles.

Rajoelina brushed off the claims as he cast his ballot in Antananarivo, the capital city.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was concerned about political volatility in Madagascar.

"There is continuing political unrest in Madagascar," the government warned its citizens. "The situation is volatile and you should avoid demonstrations and political gatherings."

London warned that military barracks and urban areas were potential "flash points" that could be the site of political violence.

"There has been continued political unrest in Madagascar since January 2009," the warning continued. "The political situation remains fluid and is subject to unexpected change."

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