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Madagascar Opposition Balks at Re-Appointment of Prime Minister

General Camille Vital in the Madagascar prime minister’s office he will reoccupy after resigning last week, March 16, 2011

Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina has re-appointed a former prime minister to head a new transitional government, a week after he resigned following an international proposal to solve the political crisis in the country. While eight out of 11 political parties signed the proposal last week, the three main opposition groups did not.

Rajoelina, who is Madagascar's de facto president, has renamed General Camille Vital as prime minister a week after his government resigned to make way for a new transitional government agreed to by eight political parties.

But the three biggest parties in Madagascar refused the proposal from Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediators for a new "consensual and inclusive" transitional government recognizing Mr. Rajoelina as President until elections and allowing him to choose first a new Prime Minister and then members of parliament proposed by those who agree to the proposal.

Leading opposition politician Lalatiana Ravololomanana said the whole process was a "farce." She called the current government of Madagascar "a police state" because an opposition party leader Mamy Rakotoarivelo has been ordered detained for 15 days of quesitioning over an alleged bomb plot against Mr. Rajoelina.

The opposition parties also claim a new transition that gives a non-elected official, such as Vital, so much power would not be consensual or inclusive and accused Mr. Rajoelina of unilateral decision-making.

Mr. Rajoelina said in an announcement Wednesday that Vital was "a man of consensus and union" who would hold office for a short time and would be tasked with making sure elections are held.

He said Vital fit all the criteria laid out in the SADC proposal and that the international community was already aware of his appointment, although no announcement has been made.

Vital claims that he is politically neutral and thinks he should be accepted.

Vital expects his reinstatement to be accepted internationally as Madagascar's choice.

He said the other prime minister candidates would get senior positions in ministries or institutions "as a gesture of good will".

Opposition parties hope Friday's meeting of the SADC Troika to review the mediation proposal will reject Vital as a prime minister of consensus as Madagascar enters a third year of political and economic crisis.