18 March 2009

Madagascar: Africa Condemns Military Handover of Power

Cape Town — As military leaders anointed opposition leader Andry Rajoelina as Madagascar’s new leader, African governments condemned the ousting of President Marc Ravalomanana as the product of unconstitutional action against a democratically-elected head of state.

Ravalomanana resigned on Tuesday, appointing a military directorate to rule the country pending the holding of a national dialogue on the way forward. But military leaders, under pressure from pro-Rajoelina rebels in their ranks, ceded power to the former mayor of Antananarivo.

The manner in which power was transferred was condemned by South African President Kgalema Motlanthe – who is also chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), by the Nigerian foreign minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.

“South Africa and SADC will never countenance the unconstitutional transfer of power from a democratically elected government in any of our member-states,” said President Motlanthe.

Maduekwe said Rajoelina’s actions were "a threat to African security." Aspirants to power, he added, should use democratic means: “You want power, you go to the polls, present your manifesto and then get elected. And keep to the original constitution," he said.

The African Union body issued a demand “that the Malagasy parties comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Constitution of Madagascar on interim arrangements in the event of resignation.”

It urged the parties “to uphold the spirit of dialogue and compromise in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful and consensual solution to the crisis…” Motlanthe also called for talks aimed at finding a solution “which is constitutional and will restore peace and stability on the island...”

Madagascar is scheduled to host the AU heads of state and government summit later this year, but now stands to lose the right to host the me

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