Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

  • Live: France says missing Algerian plane 'probably crashed'

    Read more

  • 51 French nationals aboard missing Algerian plane

    Read more

  • Deadly Israeli strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets with Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy

    Read more

  • Algerian jet vanishes: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European aviation agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

Africa

Foreign envoys shun Rajoelina inauguration

Video by Richard TOMPSETT , Louis MASSIE

Latest update : 2009-03-21

Madagascar's new strongman Andry Rajoelina announced the "end of dictatorship" as he took the oath of office in a ceremony marked by the absence of several foreign envoys who chose to censor what they call a "coup d'état".

Reuters - Jubilant supporters packed a stadium for the installation of Madagascar's army-backed new leader, Andry Rajoelina, on Saturday, but several foreign envoys stayed away in a show of censure.

Music blasted out and army marksmen stood on roofs as the ceremony began in the 40,000-capacity sports arena of the sweltering capital, Antananarivo.

The 34-year-old opposition leader took over this week after leading months of street protests against President Marc Ravalomanana. The unrest killed 135 people, scared away tourists and unsettled investors in the Indian Ocean island's fast-developing mining and oil sectors.

Ravalomanana, 59, handed over to the military, who in turn conferred power on Rajoelina to be president.
In the strongest expression of widespread international disapproval, the African Union (AU) suspended Madagascar.

Major Western powers including the United States and the European Union have termed Rajoelina's rise a coup d'etat and called for early elections. Several nations have suspended aid.

Africa's youngest and newest president is carefully calling himself "president of the transitional authority" because of the questions over the legality of his rise to power.
Rajoelina is six years too young to be president, according to Madagascar's constitution, and is taking the presidency without any form of popular vote -- but the Constitutional Court has endorsed him as national leader.

He has promised elections within two years, and the new government has called Saturday's ceremony an "installation" rather than a "swearing-in".



"THE PARTY WON'T LAST"

Key Western envoys skipped Saturday's ceremony.

"The ambassadors of the U.S., France, Germany and the European Union have told us they won't be attending," said an aide to Ravalomanana, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Washington has suspended all non-humanitarian aid to Madagascar, whose budget is 70 percent funded from abroad.

"As long as Madagascar remains in an unconstitutional situation and ... there prevails a climate of threats, intimidation and violence, the capacity for the international community to help the country will be reduced," U.S. envoy Niels Marquardt told the local Midi Madagascar newspaper.

European Union mission head Jean-Claude Boidin was not at Saturday's event either. "My invitation was cancelled," he told Reuters, adding the bloc would not take a quick decision on aid.

Stung by international disapproval, Rajoelina's camp says it is unfair to criticise a movement that fought for liberty and democracy on behalf of Madagascar's 20 million people.

As well as the crucial military backing, Rajoelina has widespread popular support.

Ravalomanana had faced increasing discontent over high poverty levels and his own enormous business empire.
About 2,000 of his supporters held a counter-rally at Antananarivo's Democracy Square on Saturday.

Around Antananarivo, a city of faded French colonial grandeur, the new leader's early promises to lower the price of essential food, scrap South Korean firm Daewoo's land-lease deal and sell the presidential jet have gone down well.

"Andry Rajoelina will bring democracy to Madagascar and he will help the poor," said retired teacher Tina Rassoamalala.

Some, however, were more cynical.

"The people will get their slice of the cake at first. But that slice will get smaller and smaller until it is just Rajoelina and his closest people benefiting," said restaurant worker Michel.

Analysts say Rajoelina must work fast to establish his legitimacy in the world's eyes. "He will have to come up with a broad-based government and a credible timetable with regard to elections that is acceptable to the Malagasy and international community," said Lydie Boka at the France-based risk consultancy StrategiCo.

"I fear ... the party won't last long."


  

Date created : 2009-03-21

COMMENT(S)