Monday, October 12, 2009

Rajoelina chooses academic for key job

Madagascar's transitional president Andry Rajoelina on Sunday fired his prime minister and appointed a new one under the terms of a power-sharing agreement reached last week.

Rajoelina dismissed Monja Roindefo, one of the hardline backers of his March coup who on Saturday refused to step down, and replaced him with an academic, Eugene Mangalaza, a figure acceptable to all the parties.

"There was a decree appointing Eugene Mangalaza prime minister," Nathalie Rabe, communication minister in the Roindefo government, told reporters.

The members of the Roindefo government will "not object to standing down" once the new government is in place, she said.

Roindefo said Saturday he was staying on at the helm of the government, arguing that the accord, brokered on Tuesday by an international mediation team, which saw the country's different political camps agree on sharing jobs in the transitional institutions was not valid.

His ministers, however, met late Saturday and unanimously disavowed his position.

"He didn't consult us and we are not in agreement with that declaration," Rabe said.

Madagascar's former president Marc Ravalomanana, ousted in March and exiled in South Africa, has warned he has no intention of signing the agreement approved by his representatives in Antananarivo and which provides for his rival to retain the presidency, at least temporarily.

Rajoelina, who would remain in office under the deal, had on Friday committed to replace Roindefo with Mangalaza, who arrived Saturday in Madagascar from Paris.

Roindefo, because of his allegiance to the Rajoelina camp, was unacceptable to the other parties.

Madagascar has been mired in a political crisis since the start of the year.

After the ouster of Ravalomanana in March an agreement was finally signed in August in Maputo, but the four parties involved in the talks had still not reached an agreement on who was to fill the transitional institution posts.