Madagascar's former opposition leader sworn in as president

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Andry Rajoelina

Andry Rajoelina, who ousted Madagascan ex-president President Marc Ravalomanana earlier this week, officially became the leader of the country, after being sworn in on Saturday.

National television broadcast the inauguration, which occurred at a soccer field in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Tens of thousands of people attended the event, although approximately 2,000 supporters of Ravalomanana held protests in the capital's Democracy Square.

“We proclaim today the end of the dictatorship,” said the new president, promising to tackle corruption that was rife under Ravalomanana.

Earlier this week, then-president Ravalomanana gave up his power to military forces, which subsequently gave Rajoelina control over the government. Rajoelina was the former mayor of Antananarivo.

Many foreign powers, among them the United States and France, have denounced the change in leadership as a coup. Norway and the US have both frozen all non-humanitarian aid to Madagascar, whilst the African Union suspended Madagascar's membership. The South African Development Community (SADC) stated that it "completely rejected the legitimacy" of the new president.