Madagascar tells families to leave rebel barracks

The rebel officers are holed up in barracks near the international airport.

Antananarivo: Madagascar`s government on Friday warned families living in a barracks housing a small group of dissident Army officers to leave, but insisted it wanted to avoid any bloodshed.

The rebel officers have been holed up in the barracks near the international airport since Wednesday, when they said they planned to topple the government and set up a military council to run the Indian Ocean island.

President Andry Rajoelina`s government said then that it would crush any rebellion, but so far no action has been taken against the dissidents. Some political analysts have warned that a bloody confrontation could permanently split the country`s military.
"We are asking the families in the BANI camp at Ivato and the people living nearby to leave the area," Armed Forces Minister Lucien Rakotoarimasy said.

"Something is not quite right. We must avoid a confrontation so brothers in arms don`t kill each other. The negotiations continue," he said when asked if an assault was planned.

Local media said the Army had set up a roadblock on the way to the BANI Army camp in the Ivato area of the capital to check vehicles, although traffic was still moving. Local media also said schools nearby had been evacuated.

The unrest in the world`s fourth largest island underscores the depth of internal divisions plaguing the army since Rajoelina drove former leader Marc Ravalomanana into exile last year, political commentators said.

The rebels` ringleader, Colonel Charles Andrianasoavina, on Thursday dismissed reports they were in talks with the government to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

Lydie Bokar at political risk consultancy StrategieCo said on Thursday that Rajoelina risked turning his own troops against him if he pushed too hard for a forceful end to the crisis.

Bureau Report