Madagascan military revolt as leader tries to tighten grip

A group of military officers revolted yesterday as Madagascar held a referendum on a new constitution that would keep a coup leader in power indefinitely.

The officers say they now control the island nation off the coast of south-east Africa. But Andry Rajoelina, a former disc jockey who seized power with military backing last year, appeared confident of maintaining his position.

The officers said they have had enough of Mr Rajoelina after the isolation and misery caused by the takeover in March 2009.

But Mr Rajoelina, who at 35 is Africa's youngest president, claimed that most of the military were behind him, adding that he was "not bothered by declarations from a handful of people".

"They've threatened me with death if I don't step down," Rajoelina said. "But I'm not afraid of threats". His prime minister, Camille Vital, denounced the officers as mutineers on national television.