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Sarkozy slams Rajoelina takeover as coup d'état

Article published on the 2009-03-20 Latest update 2009-03-20 15:21 TU

Andry Rajoelina speaking to the media at his residence(Photo: Reuters)

Andry Rajoelina speaking to the media at his residence
(Photo: Reuters)

French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday said Andry Rajoelina's take-over as President in Madagascar is a coup d’état, and called for democratic elections there. Earlier, the African Union suspended Madagascar, calling Rajoelina's move “unconstitutional” after the constitutional court confirmed him as acting president. The Southern African Development Community, the US and the European Union made similar comments.

“Of course it’s a coup d’état,” said Sarkozy at a press conference in Brussels, echoing the words of the Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

“The situation in Madagascar is regrettable, and I call for elections as quickly as possible, which is the only way to get out of this imbroglio,” Sarkoey added. 

Rajoelina’s partial cabinet met for the first time in Antananarivo on Friday, but the session was short and Rajoelina suspended Parliament, which is dominated by MPs from the outgoing ruling party.

He also put a travel ban on some outgoing ministers, saying that an assessment of the state of the country must be carried out.

Sarkozy expressed concern over the suspension of Parliament.

“I see that the first decision is to suspend Parliament, which is not a very positive sign,” he said.

The African Union also expressed its disapproval of Raojoelina’s takeover of the country.

“The council is of the opinion that what occurred in Madagascar is an unconstitutional change of government,” said Bruno Nongoma Zidouemba, Burkina Faso’s ambassador.

During a meeting of its peace and security council, the AU decided to suspend Madagascar’s membership of the continental organisation.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also refused to recognise Rajoelina.

“SADC does not and cannot recognise Rajoelina as president because his appointment does not only violate the constitution of Madagascar, but also international principles,” said a SADC security spokesperson, during a meeting in Swaziland.

Condemnation of Rajoelina and the ejection of Marc Ravalomanana, has also come from the US.

“We view this as undemocratic transfer of power,” said Robert Wood, a spokesperson for the US state department.

It is not clear where Ravolomanana has been since Rajoelina took power, and there has been some speculation that he remains in the country, taking refuge in a protected embassy.

Madagascar was suspended from the AU for over a year, after contested results from the December 2001 elections. It rejoined the union in July 2003 after holding an acceptable referendum.

On Wednesday, Rajoelina cancelled an agreement for South Korean multinational Daewoo to grow crops on the island in a special lease agreement.

He said that the deal was unconstitutional and any arrangement for the sale or rent of land would have to be renegotiated.