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Rajoelina suspends parliament

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-19

Transitional president Andry Rajoelina suspended Madagascar's national assembly and senate on Thursday, a day after he seized power from his arch rival Marc Ravalomanana at the end of a months-long power struggle.

Newly-appointed Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina suspended the country's national assembly and senate on Thursday.


Rajoelina began selecting the members of his transition government after taking charge of the Indian Ocean Island on Wednesday, a day after the army ended a months-long power tussle and swept him to the top job.

Speaking to thousands of supporters in the capital Antananarivo, the 34-year-old leader asserted his authority and promised to reverse some of the policies that sparked popular discontent with ousted president Marc Ravalomanana.

Rajoelina has been confirmed as acting president by the island’s constitutional court, a move which “has given his takeover at least some level of legitimacy”, explains Virginie Hertz, FRANCE 24 special correspondent reporting from Antananarivo.

Although most foreign powers have been non-committal, neither legitimising the power grab nor describing it as a coup, an international delegation came to visit Rajoelina in his home just a few hours after he was sworn in as transition president, indicating that ties have not been severed between the transition government and the rest of the world.

“There were delegates from the African Union and the French embassy,” states FRANCE 24’s special correspondent Cyril Vanier, also reporting from Antananarivo. “This seems to show that the rest of the world will not snub the transition government.”

Rajoelina, due to be officially sworn in on Mar. 20, will lead a transition government until the next presidential elections in 2011. “The question now is how he will govern until then,” says Vanier. In his first address as acting head of state, he vowed to deliver on some of the main themes that drove his campaign to unseat Ravalomanana.


End poverty

"I will do everything I can to ensure that Madagascans are lifted out of poverty," he said, a promise that seems difficult to keep in a country where more than 50% of the population lives on less than 1 US dollar a day.

Rajoelina, the former mayor of Antananarivo until he was sacked recently, promised to bring food prices down on the Indian Ocean island and took a swipe at Ravalomanana, who owns a flourishing food empire.

The former president's whereabouts are currently unknown, although it is believed that he is sheltered in a diplomatic mission.

Rajoelina confirmed that he will uphold an arrest warrant against his predecessor, accused of high treason, if he is ever discovered outside a protected embassy residence.

Speculation abounds that Ravolamana will try to flee into exile. Most of his family left when he lost control of the army last week.



Date created : 2009-03-19