New Madagascar PM takes office

2011-11-02 20:58

Antananarivo - Madagascar's new Prime Minister Omer Beriziky took office Wednesday as part of a deal meant to take the Indian Ocean island nation towards elections after years of political crisis.

"The ceremony today marks a crucial step in the difficult process of implementation of the roadmap, a process that should lead to the return of our country to constitutional normality," Beriziky said in a speech.

However, supporters of the exiled former president Marc Ravalomanana, ousted in a 2009 coup, were not present and are reported to oppose his appointment.

In mid-October most of the island's political players adopted a calendar to implement a roadmap to new elections, put forward by mediators from the 15-member Southern African Development Community.

"I no longer belong to any political party, no movement, I belong only to the Malagasy nation." said Beriziky, a 61-year-old former ambassador to the European Union.

Most donors withdrew much of their financial support after leader Andry Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana in a 2009 army-backed coup, leaving Madagascar in serious economic difficulty.

Some observers said that if Ravalomanana managed to place his supporters in other key posts then he might eventually accept Beriziky as premier.