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Madagascar: Tear gas fired at opposition by security forces

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The Malagasy police used tear gas on Monday against opposition candidates in the presidential election scheduled for early November as they converged with several hundred supporters on a square in the centre of the capital, AFP journalists observed.

The Malagasy people go to the polls on 9 November to choose their next president and governors. Preparations for the vote on the Indian Ocean island have been underway for several weeks in a tense atmosphere.

Eleven candidates and opponents, including former president Marc Ravalomanana, had called for a rally early this morning on the Place du 13 Mai, the scene of all the political disputes in Madagascar.

Several of these candidates were at the head of the procession shortly before 09:00 GMT when the police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Former president Ravalomanana was escorted by his bodyguards away from the tear gas, into the courtyard of a building, an AFP journalist observed.

The opposition rally had not been authorised by the authorities. Several hundred police officers had cordoned off the square since early morning.

In a televised address on Sunday evening, outgoing president Andry Rajoelina denounced a political crisis “created out of thin air”.

Thirteen candidates are in the running for the forthcoming elections, including the outgoing president, 49, who came to power in 2009 following a mutiny that ousted Marc Ravalomanana.Banned from running by the international community in 2013, Andry Rajoelina was elected in 2018.

Last month, ten opposition candidates denounced “an institutional coup d’état” orchestrated by Mr Rajoelina, following a series of court rulings that would favour the outgoing president in the run-up to the election.

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