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Rajoelina sworn in as transitional president

Article published on the 2009-03-21 Latest update 2009-03-21 14:15 TU

Newly sworn-in transitional president Andry Rajoelina.(Photo: Reuters)

Newly sworn-in transitional president Andry Rajoelina.
(Photo: Reuters)

Andry Rajoelina took an oath of office Saturday, assuming office as Madagascar’s transitional president, four days after forcing his predecessor to resign and subsequently suspending parliament, drawing widespread international criticism.

Flanked by his new ministers, religious leaders and judges, the 34-year-old Rajoelina was sworn in at Antananarivo’s main stadium before an estimated crowd of 40,000. No foreign diplomats were present.

The former dj and major of the capital promised better living standards for all, good governance, fresh polls within two years, and a new constitution.

Yet despite all the promises to the contrary, Madagascar isn't likely to become stable anytime soon, says David Zounmenou, a regional expert at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies.

“This is in no way the end of the political crisis that this country has become used to,” Zoumenou told RFI.

Comment: David Zounmenou, Madagascarl expert at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies


“The mechanism of power transfer in that country has always been the use of political violence and chaos," he said. "It doesn’t seem to be any nearer to the end of that kind of cyclical violence and a repetition of violent history in that country.”

Not far away from the ceremony, in the captial’s Ambohijatovo gardens, some 300 people gathered in a small counter-demonstration, describing Rajoelina’s rise to power as “terrorism”.

“Most Madagascarans are against the president but people are too scared to come. We are simple citizens fighting against the violence of terrorism,” one protester said, reported the AFP.

The world’s reaction to former president Marc Ravalomanana’s forced resignation on Tuesday was initially muted, but Rajoelina’s decision on Thursday to suspend parliament drew the ire of the international community, with major world leaders decrying a coup d’etat.

But Madagascar’s acting prime minister rejected these coup claims, and called on the European Union in particular to reconsider its position.

“Maybe the European Union’s vision is a bit blurred. We’re ready to explain,” Monja Roindefo said Friday. “We’ll explain the real situation. Maybe the way Madagascar acts is not very clear. Things can be a bit specific which may be difficult to follow in every detail. We don’t thing that this was a coup d’etat.”

“It’s the direct expression of democracy, when representative democracy does not express itself through the institutions,” he said.