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New Madagascar Leader Prepares for Installation


The head of Madagascar's new transitional authority is preparing to take the oath of office despite criticism from the international community and its suspension from the African Union.

Madagascar's new leader, Andry Rajoelina, takes the oath of office Saturday amid hope that his transitional government will end months of political instability.

The country's Supreme Constitutional Court says he will not be inaugurated and will not be called president of the republic because he was not chosen through a democratic election as required by the constitution.

The former opposition leader came to power after his predecessor, Marc Ravalomanana, resigned and handed power to the military. The military then handed power to Mr. Rajoelina.

A leading authority on constitutional law, Antananarivo University President Jean-Eric Rakotoarisoa, blames the former president for Madagascar's situation.

He says we left the constitution when Mr. Ravalomanana transferred his powers to the military. The president may only resign his office and then the president of the Senate assumes the presidency temporarily.

Rakotoarisoa says Madagascar is now on the path back to legitimacy because it is entering a transition between two democratic regimes.

The controversial transfer was endorsed this week by Madagascar's Constitutional Court which has become the source of legitimacy for the fledgling regime.

Mr. Rajoelina's transitional authority that is to oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections within two years. The authority's members will come from political parties, civil society and the military.

It is hoped that the new structure will end months of civil unrest that killed more than 100 people and paralyzed economic activity.

The new government's prime minister, Monja Roindefo, told VOA the first task is to restore stability.

"The top priorities are to reestablish order, public security, to secure [assure] international investors in Madagascar, to secure multilateral, bilateral cooperation," he said. "We have to give them guarantees that we have taken the power not to cut everything [relations] but in order to improve."

He said other goals are to re-establish democracy and create a government that is open to all political tendencies.

But his government is meeting some international resistance. The African Union Friday suspended Madagascar saying the new government is unconstitutional.

The Southern African Development Community, the European Union and the United States agree.

Prime Minister Roindefo rejects the charge. "The African Union charter says first that the people have the right to defend themselves against the oppression of a dictator," he said. "So it is a universal right. We are within the framework of a universal quest for democracy."

He says his government will continue to plead its case before its international partners because it needs their assistance now more than ever.

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