Madagascar: power handed over to military

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Madagascar opposition leader Andry Rajoelina.
Madagascar opposition leader Andry Rajoelina.

ANTANANARIVO: Madagascar’s President handed over power on Tuesday — but not to the rival who plunged this Indian Ocean island nation into weeks of turmoil with his bid for power.

In a radio address Tuesday, President Marc Ravalomanana said he was ceding power to the military.

“After deep reflection, I have decided to dissolve the government and give up power so that a military directorate can be established,” he said. “This decision was very difficult and very hard, but it had to be made. We need calm and peace to develop our country.”

An aide to Mr. Ravalomanana said the military directorate would organise a national conference that would be responsible for holding elections within two years. Mr. Ravalomanana’s term would have ended in 2011.

There was no immediate reaction from opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who has led weeks of anti-government protests.

Mr. Rajoelina accuses Mr. Ravalomanana of misspending public funds and undermining democracy in Madagascar — an impoverished Indian Ocean island of the coast of Africa.

Over the weekend, Mr. Rajoelina declared himself president of a transitional government and promised new presidential elections within two years.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Rajoelina entered one of the capital’s presidential palaces, welcomed by an Army faction that apparently support him. — AP



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