Madagascar: Andry Rajoelina remains president after consensus

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Madagascar political leaders have agreed to continue with military backed Andry Rajoelina, as president of Madagascar, on condition that he will not run for the next presidential elections. The leaders of Madagascar’s four main political groups had met earlier in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique to resolve the political crisis that has destabilized African Island nation. After several weeks of deadlock following the Maputo talks, the various political leaders in the Southern African island have reached a consensus.

“The president is Andry Rajoelina, the vice-president is Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, and the prime minister is Eugene Mangalaza,” Ange Andrianarisoa, the Leader of one of the four delegations is quoted. “Mr Ravalomanana had accepted that Mr Rajoelina could remain president on condition he did not stand at the next presidential election,” Andrianarisoa added.

In August, following negotiations in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, a power-sharing agreement was agreed. The August accord included a transitional period of 15 months, during which legislative and presidential elections would be held. The talks were mediated by the former Mozambican leader, Joaquim Chissano, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Shortly after the new peace accord was signed, Mr. Rajoelina appointed without consulting the other signatories of the Maputo agreement. Opposition parties refused to recognize ministers the named by Mr. Rajoelina accusing him of unilaterally hand-picking his own ministers without their accord and breaking the power sharing deal made in August.

A power struggle

Backed by the Madagascar military, Mr. Rajoelina ousted the former President Marc Ravalomanana in March, after months of anti-government protests. Rajoelina and his allies accused the overthrown president of being a tyrant who squandered public money.

The civil unrest that followed the political struggle led to the deaths of hundreds of people and crippled the Madagascar’s tourist industry. Rajoelina and his allies were accused by the African Union of taking power through a coup and foreign aid was frozen. The International community will not recognize Rajoelina as head of state and many countries have suspended aid to the country, reports claim.

Mr. Rrajoelina burst on to Madagascar’s political scene in December 2007 to stand for mayor in the capital, Antananarivo. He tried to use this power base to propel himself to the country’s top job, but was fired by President Ravalomanana. Mr Rajoelina accused the president of being a tyrant who misspent public money, and despite his young age he set himself up as the opposition. The army’s support for President Ravalomanana had begun to waver in February after security forces opened fire and killed about 28 pro-Rajoelina demonstrators in the capital.

In March, a faction of the army mutinied and its leader named himself chief-of-staff, ousting the country’s top general after which the military police — the gendarmes — said they would no longer take orders from the government. After pro-opposition troops seized the president’s office in the centre of Antananarivo and the central bank, Mr. Ravalomanana seemed to have little option but to step down. With the army taking direct action against the elected head of state, the international community described the action as a coup. As the soldiers stormed the presidential office, the African Union condemned the attempted coup d’etat. Mr Rajoelina declared himself head of state.

The uproar triggered waves of violent protests, looting and a military mutiny that have left over 100 people dead since January. The army swung determinedly behind Mr. Rajoelina, who emerged victorious, in the face of international criticism.

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