Madagascan President sworn in, calls for national reconciliation

Monday, March 23, 2009

Antananarivo - Andry Rajoelina, sworn in as President of the High Transitional Authority of Madagascar at the weekend, has called for national reconciliation.

Addressing an official ceremony held in a stadium at the center of the capital city, Mr Rajoelina said: "I sacrifice my life and all my forces to respect the Constitution and all laws" of the Indian Ocean island country.

A national conference would be held soon with the participation of all stakeholders in Madagascar, including all political parties and civil society. The meeting will help prepare an amendment to the constitution and the law on national elections, including a single ballot-paper.

He said that he would declare all his property to avoid the public thinking that he would advantage of his power and promised to continue the fight against corruption.

The management of the national budget, he said, would be transparent in his transitional government and it would avoid any unnecessary expenditure.

During his speech after taking his oath, Mr Rajoelina sought to change governance in Madagascar, including the management of the national budget.

Mr Rajoelina's presidency was legalised by the High Constitutional Court on Wednesday following weeks of political crisis and social turmoil beginning in February.

Mr Rajoelina reassured the international community, diplomatic corps and partners of their security in the Indian Ocean island country.

He also promised that the national radio and television networks would be independent in their work to improve communication in the country.

Mr Rajoelina took power after a three-month stalemate with his predecessor Mr Ravalomanana, who handed over his presidency last Tuesday to an Executive Military Board led by the oldest and most senior military official, navy Admiral Hyppolite Ramaroson, before his resignation.

Mr Ramaroson transferred presidential power to Mr Rajoelina just a few hours later and the High Constitutional Court legalised his power on Wednesday.

On Friday South African Defence Minister Charles Nqakula said imposing tough sanctions on Madagascar will be top of the agenda when the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meets in Johannesburg at the end of the month.

"It is time tougher action is taken against those who illegally oust democratically elected leaders," said the minister.

He was briefing reporters in Pretoria on the outcomes of the SADC Extra Ordinary Summit of the Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in Swaziland.

The Troika will submit to SADC a number of resolutions, including imposing sanctions and using all relevant resources available to restore order in Madagascar.

Mr Nqakula said the mood at the summit had been characterised by a deep sense of intolerance to the illegal outage of a democratically elected leader.

"The sanctions must send a clear signal that SADC does not tolerate any ousting of democratically elected leaders. They must feel the sanctions."

He further said that the Madagascan situation is to be used as a yard stick to see how SADC and the African Union respond to situations like this in the future.