News24

Rajoelina shuffles cabinet

2010-05-25 10:42

Antananarivo - Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina named 10 new ministers, including five military officials, in a cabinet reshuffle the opposition said fell way short of creating a neutral government.

Rajoelina, at the centre of a leadership battle since he seized power in March last year, said this month he would form the neutral government after power-sharing talks failed.

Andre Haja Resampa, secretary general of the Office of the President, told reporters General Camille Vital would remain prime minister. There are now seven senior military officials in the cabinet of 32 ministers.

"Once again this is a unilateral move and as such it cannot obtain international recognition," Fetison Andrianirina, head of ousted President Marc Ravalomanana's political movement, told Reuters.

Foreign donors and international mediators have for months urged the Indian Ocean island's political rivals to form a consensus government tasked with holding new elections.

After negotiations collapsed late last month in South Africa, Rajoelina vowed to forge ahead with a new interim government that would oversee a referendum on constitutional reform and a presidential vote in November.

Rajoelina gave no details about what he saw as a neutral government when he made the announcement on May 3, but there was speculation it could include technocrats, politicians, the army and civil society.

The inclusion of five technocrats with no political affiliation was likely designed to give a sense of such neutrality and concession-making, but analysts were unconvinced.

"There is no big change in this government," Guy Rarimoarivony, a director at the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in the capital Antananarivo told Reuters.

The near 18-month political crisis has hit economic growth in the world's biggest vanilla producer, harming foreign investment and hammering the tourism sector.

In an interview with Reuters this weekend, ousted President Marc Ravalomanana said he remained committed to negotiations on a unity government and denied backing a thwarted mutiny attempt within the military police.