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Madagascar police fire teargas at opposition protesters

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Police in Madagascar fired teargas on Monday at supporters of a political party opposed to the transitional government of President Andry Rajoelina, demanding immediate elections and his departure.

The former French colony has been in crisis since 2009 when Rajoelina took power with military support, ousting former President Marc Ravalomanana and triggering turmoil that scared off investors and tourists.

The main political parties signed a road map in 2011, mediated by the Southern African Development Community, which confirmed Rajoelina as president and allowed for the unconditional return of Ravalomanana from self-imposed exile.

Rajoelina and Ravalomanana had reached a deal with regional states not to run in this year's poll. But when Ravalomanana's wife, Lalao Ravalomanana, chose to run, Rajoelina said the pact had broken down and put his name forward.

As a result, foreign donors suspended election financing and the government had to postpone the vote by a month to August 23.

The African Union said on Friday Rajoelina had failed to heed its calls to withdraw, casting doubt on whether the poll would take place.

Hundreds of supporters of the Avotr'i Madagasikara party gathered in the capital to demand the running of the vote. Police fired teargas to disperse them. They later regrouped and threatened to protest again on Tuesday.

"We want elections to take place as soon as possible. We want the transitional government, starting with Andry Rajoelina, to leave," protester Leontine Randrianantenaina said.

Rajoelina flew to Tanzania on Monday to meet President Jakaya Kikwete, who chairs a Southern African Development Community grouping on politics, security and peace, to discuss the political situation on the island.

(Reporting by Alain Iloniaina; Editing by George Obulutsa)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130722/madagascar-police-fire-teargas-at-opposition-protesters