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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen