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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee