Madagascar leader fires prime minister

Madagascar's leader on Friday fired the prime minister he named in October, in a move likely to anger international mediators and further jeopardise hopes for a consensus solution to the island's political crisis.

"The measures in the decree dated October 10 ... relating to the nomination of the leader of the government of national union are hereby annulled," Haja Resampa, secretary general of the presidency, said.

Andry Rajoelina (pictured), who spearheaded a coup earlier this year, had appointed Eugene Mangalaza under heavy international pressure as part of a power-sharing deal signed with his political rivals.

But that deal and others have fallen through as Mr Rajoelina and three former presidents bicker over the division of key jobs in a consensus government. Vice prime minister Cecile Manorohanta, a close ally of Mr Rajoelina, will take over the premiership indefinitely.

Analysts said Mr Rajoelina's move would dent hopes for the unblocking of aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hours earlier, members of Madagascar's opposition said they would form a unity government within days and called on the military to stay in their barracks.

"We are going to put in place our ministers and we ask the armed forces to remain neutral and stay in their barracks," former vice-president Albert Zafy told reporters.

Mr Rajoelina this week called elections and said power-sharing talks were dead.

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