Madagascan PM, government resign

2011-03-10 20:02

Antananarivo - Madagascan prime minister Camille Vital and his government resigned Thursday, paving the way for the implementation of a roadmap due to set up a new administration, the president's office said.

This decision "follows the initialling of the road map to end the crisis in Madagascar and is part of its immediate implementation," said a statement from the president of the island's transition authority, Andry Rajoelina.

The document was initialled on Wednesday by eight Madagascan political parties.

It would allow Rajoelina, a 36-year-old former disc jockey, to continue leading the country but provides for the creation of a broader transitional administration to prepare for elections.

Rajoelina ousted president Marc Ravalomanana from power with the army's backing two years ago but he failed to secure international legitimacy and the Indian Ocean island has since been crippled by a deep political crisis.

Rajoelina thanked Vital, who had been the transition authority's prime minister since December 2009.

"I would like to thank the prime minister and his government for their contribution over this period," he told reporters after the resignation was announced.

Power change

"The principle of power change should be accepted, this is why they agreed to resign," Rajoelina said.

According to the road map, a "consensus prime minister" will now have to be picked from a list of names drawn up by the document's signatories.

He will have to be from a different region and political party than the president's and Rajoelina explained on Thursday that the appointment should be revealed early next week.

Each candidate is expected to hold talks with the president's staff on Friday and Saturday.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has mandated a team led by Leonardo Simao to mediate an end to the crisis, is expected to formally sign the roadmap at a summit later this month.

"He (Rajoelina) can name his prime minister now because he has the consensus to do so. The SADC's approval will be a formal step because Madagascar's political class has already agreed," he said in Antananarivo.

Simao also claimed that Rajoelina's arch-enemy Ravalomanana, who lives in exile in South Africa, would join the road map.

Eight groups onboard

"Eight political groups have initialled the road map. The Ravalomanana movement will do the same in the coming days because they said they need to report to their president first," Simao said.

He admitted however that Ravalomanana's camp had reservations on the document, which he stressed was definitive and could no longer be amended.

One of the conditions included in the roadmap is that Ravalomanana, whose planned return from exile was thwarted by Rajoelina's regime last month, cannot return to the island until the security climate improves.

Two other political movements led by former president Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka have rejected the road map and continue to insist there is no alternative to Rajoelina stepping down.

The March 17 2009 coup led to Madagascar's suspension from the SADC and African Union and also prompted donors to turn off the tap on the heavily aid-reliant island.