Madagascar Opposition Leader to Occupy Presidential Office Tuesday
By Peter Clottey
17 March 2009
Deposed Antananarivo Mayor Andry Rajoelina is expected to occupy the official administrative center of the presidency Tuesday after ordering the arrest of President Marc Ravalomana. Some political analysts say the opposition leader's move to take over the official presidential office could force the president to resign with two more years left for his term to expire.
Rajoelina ordered the arrest of President Ravalomanana after some army troops seized the presidential palace in the center of the capital, Antananarivo Monday evening.
The national army which had previously declared itself neutral in the ongoing political crisis between the president and the opposition leader backed the opposition leader after refusing to take any more orders from the government. But the government has dismissed the opposition's action as a coup d'état, which it said was unconstitutional.
Monja Roindefo is the opposition named prime minister. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition leader Rajoelina is set to become Madagascar's next president Tuesday.
"So, today the President (Rajoelina) will make his first step obviously to the presidential palace of Ambuitoreta today to officialize the democratically step that we have advocated up to now and to represent the transitional authority. So, although it is a great day for us we are sad that after the seventh of February that a lot of people were killed by Mr. Ravalomanana. The army has secured the presidential palace to install the transitional authority," said Roindefo.
He denied the opposition's move to forcibly take over power from the constitutionally elected president is illegal.
"Mr. Ravalomanana who has killed hundreds of people in front of the world, he has performed that act and with all the infringement he has committed against the constitution, he is the one who has committed the illegal act. He did not violate the constitution one or two times, but several times and there is lack of democracy and the lack of the market law or the free market competition and the lack of freedom. So, those people who are saying Ravalomanana has to be defended rather than the people quest for democracy are those people who want to benefit from the Malagasy wealth illegally with Ravalomanana," he said.
Roindefo accused the embattled president of committing a crime after opposition protesters were shot and killed while demanding the resignation of Ravalomanana in the capital, Antananarivo.
"You know that we are living in the year 2009 and I don't think any president has done what Ravalomanana has done to kill his own people in cold blood. He has killed the peaceful demonstrators on the seventh of February. So for us, Ravalomanana is not the president of the Malagasy people after he killed those people," Roindefo pointed out.
He said the opposition intends to restore what he described as the diminished democratic tenets orchestrated by Ravalomanana.
"What we are doing now is to reinstate the democracy here in Madagascar. To restore the regulation and to lay down the principles for a genuine democracy and a genuine development of Madagascar," he said.
Roindefo said the embattled Ravalomanana would be prosecuted after he is detained.
"It is not what I will be doing to him and it is not what Rajoelina will be doing to him. He has committed a crime against the nation, so it is up to the nation's court to judge him. It is not up to me or Andry," Roindefo noted.
Meanwhile, the African Union Peace and Security has sharply condemned the opposition's move to oust embattled President Ravalomana describing it as a coup d'état. This shortly followed opposition leader Andry Rajoelina's call for the immediate detention of the constitutionally elected President Ravalomanana during a rally in the capital Antananarivo late Monday.
The African body called on all Malagasies to refrain from any hostility urging them to respect the country's constitution.
The European Union also warned it would reject anybody who forcibly take over power in Madagascar and said it would take the same steps it took after a military coup in Mauritania. The EU froze development aid to the Mauritania when mutinous soldiers seized power there after ousting the constitutionally elected president.
The opposition leader had earlier rejected Ravalomanana's offer to hold a referendum to solve the political stand-off which began in January and led to the loss of lives and property, which began in January.
Political analysts agree that opposition leader Rajoelina has tapped into widespread public discontent, especially with high levels of poverty among many inhabitants who are said to be fed up with the escalating political stalemate.
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