Madagascar's Rajoelina declares new republic

14:56, December 12, 2010      

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Madagascar's President of the Highest Transitional Authority (HAT), Andry Rajoelina, on Saturday declared the installation of the fourth republic in the Indian Ocean island country hours after promulgating a new Constitution.

Rajoelina made the announcement at the same venue in the capital Antananarivo where the country's first president Philibert Tsiranana declared the installation of the first republic in 1958.

The HAT leader promulgated the new Constitution in the morning (HAT) after it was adopted in the Nov. 17 national referendum.

The president of the High Constitutional Court (HCC), Michel Rajaonarivony, confirmed the results of the referendum days ago, saying 2,657,962 out of the 3,761,977 people who cast ballots, or 74.19 percent, voted "Yes" for the Constitution.

The total number of registered voters was put at 7,151,223 and the turnout at 52.61 percent.

This referendum was the eighth in Madagascar after the first of the kind was held on Sept. 28, 1958, when the Madagascan people voted for self governance.

HAT says this referendum is the best solution to end Madagascar's political crisis erupting in December 2008, when the then president, Marc Ravalomanana, shut down the Viva television station privately owned by Rajoelina.

Rajoelina was the mayor of the capital Antananarivo at that time. The station was shut down for airing an interview of former president Didier Ratsiraka, a critic of Ravalomanana.

With the backing of the military, Rajoelina replaced Ravalomanana in March 2009, after months of massive street protests, in which many died in confrontations with the army.

Negotiations were managed with the mediation of the international community, but differences between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina became widened with the other former presidents Zafy Albert and Didier Ratsiraka uniting to oppose Rajoelina.

The three former presidents were opposed to the holding of this referendum, seeing it as a step to consolidate Rajoelina's grip on power. But they supported the idea of setting up a transitional government that would be led by the four protagonists before they decide on a election date.

An agreement was signed late in 2009 in the Mozambican capital Maputo, before an additional document was inked in Addis Ababa, the headquarters of the African Union in Ethiopia, on power sharing of the four camps. The agreement, however, has never been carried out amid continued quarrels about who should head the transition.

Rajoelina unilaterally decided to organize the referendum whose results have been rejected by the international community and the other Madagascan protagonists.

While the referendum was conducted, a group of military officers staged a mutiny against Rajoelina at barracks. The putsch was soon routed without affecting the referendum.

Source: Xinhua
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