Madagascar leader names army officer as prime minister

Monday, December 21, 2009

Andry Rajoelina

Madagascar's leader, Andry Rajoelina, has named a high-ranking army officer as the country's new prime minister, and announced he is abandoning a power-sharing deal with the opposition.

Mr. Rajoelina's office announced Sunday that Colonel Camille Albert Vital would serve as the new prime minister, replacing Eugene Mangalaza, who was supposed to be prime minister under the deal. Previously he had been expected to make Cecile Manorohanta the new prime minister. He also abolished the posts of co-president.

In a nationally broadcast address, Colonel Vital said that organising elections and increasing security were his priorities. He called on the people of Madagascar, including political rivals, to work with his government.

Mr. Rajoelina took power in a coup last March. On Wednesday, he appeared on national television to announce that parliamentary elections would take place March 20 next year. He made no mention of presidential elections.

International mediators have brokered several power-sharing agreements in recent months, but all have been unsuccessful. The African Union and other regional bodies have refused to recognize Mr. Rajoelina's presidency.