Former Madagascan President appoints new prime minister

Friday, April 17, 2009

Antananarivo - Former Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana on Thursday appointed a new prime minister and asked him to set up a consensus government.

Mr Ravalomanana told his supporters via a telephone from Swaziland that he had appointed Rakotonirina Manandafy, leader of the Movement for the Progress of Madagascar (MFM), to be his new prime minister.

MFM, founded by Mr Manandafy in 1972, has been a political ally of the former ruling I Love Madagascar party led by Mr Ravalomanana and one of few political parties which supported him in the current political crisis that began last December.

Mr Manandafy, 71, was a technical advisor of Mr Ravalomanana soon after Mr Ravalomanana came to power in 2002 but gave up his job before the last presidential election in December 2006 and came out to be a presidential candidate to compete with Mr Ravalomanana.

Mr Ravalomanana told his supporters that he was confident that peace and order would restore upon his return.

The former president fled out of the island country in March, days after his political rival Andry Rajoelina officially replaced him as President of the country.

Mr Ravalomanana said Mr Manandafy was agreed by the international community to be his prime minister and he planned to establish a national committee before the end of this year.

He urged Mr Manandafy to establish a consensus government as soon as possible and occupy the prime minister palace, Andafiavaratra.

Soon after his appointment, Mr Manandafy asked representatives of international community, civil societies and businessmen to come to Andafiavaratra for his first meeting.

The former president said he was willing to share the power with his rival Mr Rajoelina, who was legalised by the High Constitutional Court as President of the High Transitional Authority on 18 March.

Mr Rajoelina, who won over a candidate from the ruling I Love Madagascar party in a regional election at the end of 2007 to be mayor of the capital city, proclaimed leader of the country on 7 February.

Mr Ravalomanana handed over his presidency to a military committee on 17 March before leaving his office on the same day but hours later, the military top brass transferred the presidency to Mr Rajoelina.

The power transfer in Madagascar was denounced as unconstitutional and a coup by the international community, including the African Union, the SADC and the European Union.

The scheduled African Union summit here in July this year and Francophonie summit next year were cancelled due to the political crisis in Madagascar.