Former DJ puts himself in charge of Madagascar

A 34-year-old former DJ has become the youngest serving head of state in Africa after months of violent protests finally bulldozed Madagascar's president out of office.

Andry Rajoelina was confirmed as the "serving president of the republic" by the constitutional court today, despite being too young for the top job under the Indian Ocean island's legal system.

It marked a humiliating departure for his immediate predecessor Marc Ravalomanana who was all-but forced to resign after a power struggle that had threatened to drag the troubled former French colony into a bloody civil war.

Power had been visibly ebbing from Mr Ravalonmanana in recent days and in his last 24 hours in office the 59 year old, saw the army storm his offices in the capital while he watched powerless from his residence on the outskirts of the city guarded by a rag-tag coterie of his remaining supporters.

Yesterday began with the opposition announcing that it had accepted the resignation of eight of his cabinet ministers, and then the President dropped his rhetoric of fighting to the death and resigned.

Even as he declared time on his second term in office, he sought to delay the coronation of his rival, Mr Rajoelina, who is still six years short of the constitutionally stipulated minimum age for Madagascar's highest office. "After right reflection, I have decided to dissolve the government and transfer power so that a military government can be put in place," Mr Ravalomanana said in a statement on national radio. But his attempt to hand the government to the country's most senior military officer, Vice-Admiral Hyppolite Ramaroson, appeared to be discounted by both the army and the opposition.

Mr Rajoelina, who stirred popular unrest against the President while he was mayor of the capital city, wasted little time, marching into the President's sacked offices and declaring himself in charge. "It is the path Madagascar must take," said Mr Rajoelina, who made his money in advertising. It is a path that the military, including Vice-Admiral Ramaroson, was expected to endorse last night.

Mr Rajoelina also called the recently resigned president a "dictator" who runs Madagascar as a private business. Many see the hand of the powerful former president Didier Ratsiraka, 71, behind the young ex-mayor and the veteran politician could yet re-emerge as a contender in fresh elections.

Waves of protests from December paralysed the capital, while as many as 135 people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces. The army even mutinied last week, declaring its support for Mr Rajoelina.

While some diplomats on the island and foreign officials expressed relief at the peaceful conclusion of the power struggle, others are concerned at the manner of Mr Ravalomanana's overthrow. "The use of violence as a means to short-circuit the constitutional process is unacceptable," said Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief.

The instability could be the product of outside efforts to secure Madagascar's mineral wealth. Some analysts point to the recent visit by the Chinese President, Hu Jintao; his country is involved in projects from iron ore to possibly arranging naval port facilities, and the island could factor into China's naval expansion strategy.

Mark Schroeder, at the global strategists Stratfor, added: "Madagascar has tremendous reserves of crude oil sands which have not yet been fully explored."

But if Mr Rajoelina does not swiftly deliver an upturn for Madagascar's impoverished majority he could also find himself on the receiving end of street protests.

Suggested Topics
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial