Madagascar

MADAGASCAR: SUPREME COURT RULES MODIFIED, A BLOW FOR THE OPPOSITION

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The transitional president Andry Rajoelina has enacted, in the Cabinet, an order to deprive his opponents from being able to contest his decisions in the courts in order to tighten his control of the state. The opposition will no longer be able to appeal to the Supreme Court, which had so far monitored political contentions, to contest nominations to the offices of prime minister or member of government. The decree also gives free reign for Rajoelina to take legislative initiatives and potential suspension of diplomatic relations with other countries and with international organisms. The local and continental press is presenting Rajoelina's measures as a further attempt to consolidate his power. Three weeks ago, the main opponents - former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsirika and Albert Zafy - appealed against the removal of the former consensus prime minister, Eugène Mangalaza, which Rajoelina ordered on December 18, replacing him with a military officer, Camille Vital. In a context of greater political tension, Rajoelina has asked his followers and local administrators to "ignore all forms of pressure and to work in an exemplary manner to organize transparent and democratic elections", with the legislative elections expected to take place on March 20[AB]