Madagascar mayor seeks to take power at weekend
ANTANANARIVO Feb 3 (Reuters) - Madagascar's maverick opposition leader said on Tuesday he would establish an interim government this weekend if the Indian Ocean island's president refused to step down.
Protests have spilled into a second week, with the capital's mayor Andry Rajoelina leading thousands in demonstrations against President Marc Ravalomanana, whom he calls a dictator out of touch with the poor.
At the weekend, Rajoelina, 34, declared himself in charge after days of unrest that killed scores of people.
The U.S. envoy put the death toll at more than 100, while police said 76 died during street fights, fires and looting.
Ravalomanana, 59, a self-made millionaire, has insisted he is still at the helm and called for calm.
The African Union has condemned any moves to overthrow him.
But the mayor, speaking at a rally on Tuesday in front of a 2,000-strong crowd clad in orange, issued a weekend deadline for his demands to be met.
"We will wait until Saturday. If there is no reply or peaceful solution from the president, then we will put in place a transitional government," he said.
The mayor, nicknamed TGV after the French express train, has delivered letters to the High Constitutional Court and parliament demanding Ravalomanana be removed from power.
Police have detained six leaders behind the anti-government movement, picking them up as they prepared for a rally on Monday in the northeastern port city of Toamasina.
"They are accused of holding a public meeting without permission," said regional police head Pascal Andriambahoaka.
Analysts say Rajoelina has successfully tapped into widespread frustration with the government, but may have over-played his hand by declaring himself in charge.
The fresh political instability on traditionally volatile Madagascar -- the world's fourth largest and one of its most biodiverse islands -- threatens to deter tourists and harm its reputation as a secure destination for foreign investment.
Big investors in Madagascar include Rio Tinto (RIO.L) and Sherritt International (S.TO), who plan to extract nickel, bauxite, cobalt and Ilmenite.
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