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Madagascar: Tense standoff between security services and protesters.

Demonstrators took to the streets of the capital in protest of a new electoral law they say is too restrictive. The administration of President Rajaonarimampianina has been marred by allegations of corruption.

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File photo: A street in Antananarivo

The situation was uneasy in Madagascar's capital of Antananarivo on Saturday as hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the government quarter to protest a new law they say is designed to prevent their candidate from running in this year's presidential elections.

Local news described a heavy police presence, including both police and soldiers guarding important sites like parliament. The Madagascar Tribune reported that President Hery Rajaonarimampianina had left for an unannounced overseas trip in the wake of the protests.

The Reuters news agency reported that the demonstrators had been dispersed by police throwing tear gas canisters.

'He attacks members of parliament'

Opposition lawmaker Paul Bert Rahasimanana was quoted by Reuters as accusing the government of attacking politicians outside the ruling party: "Rajaonarimampianina has to resign, he attacks members of Parliament which are in the line of their duty. We just wanted to report on the adoption of [new] electoral laws and he sends us forces of repression."

Supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana say the new statute effectively stops him from running in the country's general election which is set for later this year. Opposition politicians have also complained about the new laws restricing campaign financing and media access.

President Rajaonarimampianina has been in power since 2013 and his administration has been marred by allegations of corruption and incompetence. In 2015, parliament voted to remove him from office for "constitutional violations" but the country's constitutional court threw out the motion.

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