Madagascar

Madagascar leader tears up power-sharing deals

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- Rajoelina says opposition parliament plans illegal

- Sacks co-presidents, appoints own prime minister

By Richard Lough

ANTANANARIVO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina has formally rejected internationally brokered power-sharing deals and said any attempt by the opposition to form a parliament this week would be illegal.

Rajoelina named an army colonel as his new prime minister on Sunday after months of power-sharing talks to end nearly a year of instability on the Indian Ocean island collapsed.

In a statement published late on Sunday, Rajoelina said Friday's presidential decree firing his prime minister annulled an earlier order signed in September ratifying peace accords signed in Mozambique and Ethiopia.

The 35-year-old instigator of a coup in March said the posts of two co-presidents -- created under the terms of a deal reached in the Ethiopian capital -- and that of speaker of parliament were therefore scrapped.

"Consequently, the (opposition's) notice of meeting for parliament to convene is illegal," the statement said.

Political turmoil has convulsed Madagascar after repeated large-scale protests by Rajoelina's supporters and the backing of dissident troops ended with the overthrow of former President Marc Ravalomanana.

Rajoelina, Ravalomanana, and two other ex-leaders, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy have since squabbled for months over who should hold which top jobs in a consensus government.

Opposition leaders on the world's fourth largest island, eyed by foreign investors for its oil and mineral resources, have said they will form a unity government before the Christmas period. They also plan to recall parliament.

Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, one of the two dismissed co-presidents, told Reuters tearing up the power-sharing deals would call into question Rajoelina's own legitimacy.

"Rajoelina was named by the four political movements as part of the deal. He is there (in office) only as a result of the legality of the Maputo agreement," he said in reference to the initial deal signed in August in Mozambique's capital.

Rajoelina has said Madagascar will hold a parliamentary election on March 20 before reforming the constitution. No timetable has been set for a presidential election.

France, Madagascar's former colonial power which has been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to resolve the island's political crisis, urged all parties to renew their dialogue and restore the consensus necessary for a solution.

"Holding elections in March 2010 can only contribute to a lasting solution if there are sufficient guarantees of transparency, monitoring by an independent electoral commission and supervision by international observers," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Alain Iloniaina in Antananarivo and James Mackenzie in Paris; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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