Rajoelina names new Madagascar prime minister

Madagascar’s president has named a new prime minister and fired his former premier, who had refused to step down under the terms of a power-sharing deal aimed at ending nine months of political turmoil.
President Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in a March coup, has endorsed Tuesday’s internationally-brokered agreement, which called for Monja Roindefo to be replaced as prime minister by a relatively unknown anthropology professor, Eugene Mangalaza, Reuters reports.
Rajoelina, who at 35 is Africa’s youngest leader, had been under pressure from donors to dismiss Roindefo, who is described by analysts as a heavyweight backer of his power-grab.
“Eugene Mangalaza is named prime minister of the transitional government,” Haja Resampa, secretary general of the president’s office, said in a statement late on Saturday.
“All earlier decrees contrary to this appointment are hereby annulled, in particular those of the former head of government, Monja Roindefo.”
Ousted former president Marc Ravalomanana has refused to accept the power-sharing agreement, which sees his rival retain the presidency of the world’s fourth largest island.
The instability has hurt economic growth and alarmed foreign investors seeking to exploit its oil and mineral reserves.
Rajoelina has said he aims to organise a presidential election before April next year, but has not yet said if he plans to stand as a candidate. Foreign donors say a free and fair ballot will lead to a resumption of aid.
Ministers reject Roindefo
Roindefo had refused to step down as prime minister, saying the power-sharing deal was invalid because it had not yet been signed by Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and two other former leaders.
Madagascar’s power-brokers have been deadlocked over who should hold the top jobs in a unity government since they agreed to share power at talks in Maputo, Mozambique, in August.
Observers say Roindefo had sought to stop Rajoelina compromising with the opposition but the former prime minister looked increasingly isolated yesterday after government ministers issued a joint statement backing the president.
“We, members of the government, declare that we do not share his (Roindefo’s) opinion and no longer take orders from him,” government spokesman Gilbert Raharizatovo told reporters.
Ravalomanana, who is in exile in South Africa, has insisted any deal that lets Rajoelina keep the presidency would be an illegal endorsement of his military-backed coup.
But some local commentators say the international community may consider breaking the impasse by accepting signatures on the deal from just the other three leaders, sidelining Ravalomanana.
“It would be better for him if he re-engaged in the process,” said political analyst Jean Eric Rakotoarisoa.

Pic: Army backed President Andry Rajoelina