Rajoelina succeeds coup d’etat as President resigns

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Shortly after Andry Rajoelina, a former disc jockey, ordered the Malagasy military to storm the presidential palace and offices, a physically worn President Ravalomanana has announced that he will step down and hand over power to the military as one by one, his ministers leave office.

He is reported to have left the second presidential palace of Iavoloha, about 15 kilometers from the capital, Antananarivo, to an undisclosed location.

According to reports emerging from Madagascar, President Ravalomanana has signed an order to transfer powers to a military board and is set to make a declaration. Experts say that this move; Andry Rajoelina’s refusal to allow a referendum to be held in Madagascar and forcing President Ravalomanana to hand over power to the military who will in turn to hand over state powers to Rajoelina, is a clear-cut coup d’etat.

The Madagascar army known to stay neutral during the country’s political battles in the past got fully involved in the two-month old political tussle in the country on a couple of days after swearing neutrality. Newly installed chief of army staff, Col Ndriarijaona said the army is now almost wholly behind the opposition. Reports claim that the army had seized the presidential palace with the intention to hasten the president’s departure.

Yesterday, several soldiers loyal to Madagascar opposition leader, Mr. Rajoelina stormed one of the Madagascar presidential palace smashing down the palace gate with an armored tank while letting off explosives and gunshots, before taking over the palace. Another faction of the pro-opposition army took over the central bank about the same time.

Observers have said that if he (Mr. Rajoelina) wants to replace an elected head of state, he has to go to the ballot, raising fears that the President’s supporters could also take the same action as Rajoelina’s supporters should he be ousted through an unconstitutional action.

The president, Mr. Ravalomanana sought refuge in another palace in the city center, protected by hundreds of his supporters. A spokesperson of the president said that the president plans to stay in Madagascar, even when he has been advised to be placed somewhere else safer. ’I will die with you if I have to,’ the president was quoted sa saying to his guards.The president has also asked for military support from the UN and southern African states.

Mr Rajoelina has promised to organize elections in the next 18 to 24 months after he establishes a transitional government in the country. “I have the mandate of more than 60 political parties in Madagascar to lead this transition, so it isn’t a coup at all. We elected him (Mr. Marc Ravalomanana) to respect the law and the constitution. He cannot do whatever he likes with the country. So for us this president no longer has the right, nor the power any longer to run the country,” said Mr. Rajoelina.

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