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Call me President, says Rajoelina, court agrees

Article published on the 2009-03-18 Latest update 2009-03-18 09:53 TU

Andry Rajoelina at the presidential palace in Antananarivo on Tuesday(Photo: Reuters)

Andry Rajoelina at the presidential palace in Antananarivo on Tuesday
(Photo: Reuters)

Madagascar's Constitutional High Court has confirmed Andry Rajoelina as President, after the former opposition leader declared himself head of a transitional government and promised elections within two years. The whereabouts of former president Marc Ravalomanana is unknown, after troops forced him out of office.

The situation in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo is described as "calm" by France24 correspondent Cyril Vanier, the day after Andry Rajoelina took over power from former President Ravalomanana.

Rajoelina was helped into power when the majority of the army opposed the four army officers to whom Ravalomanana had entrusted power when he resigned.

"There are signs of military activity in the sense that the army is guarding the strategic positions, the presidential offices within the city centre - the very same offices that they took by force only 48 hours ago," says Vanier. 

Interview: Cyril Vanier of France24 TV in Antananarivo

18/03/2009 by Michael Fitzpatrick

He says there are still armoured vehicles in front of the offices and that more soldiers are being sent in the direction of the palace, which is about 12 kilometres from the city centre.

"Later on in the day it's likely that they will move into the presidential palace where the presidential guard is said to have deserted," he says. "So it should be just a formality for them to take effective control of the entire presidential palace."

Rajoelina's says his government will organise a new presidential election within the next two years.

"Constitutionally speaking, the opposition strategy has always been to take power [...] in the knowledge that they would, after the fact, change the constitution to make it legal," says Vanier.

The whereabouts of former President Marc Ravalomanana is still not known and Rajoelina says he does not know where he is.

Vanier says the US embassy has denied reports that he is hiding there.

"We know that neither of his two planes have been used to fly him off the island, which means he's still somewhere in Madagascar,' says Vanier.