Madagascar PM and government resign: President

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:40 AM
Madagascar PM and government resign: President

By Alain Iloniaina

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar's prime minister and his government resigned Thursday, in line with a road map proposed by international mediators to end a two-year political crisis on the Indian Ocean island.

Eight out of 11 political groups in Madagascar initialed the plan backed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Wednesday. It calls for a new prime minister to be appointed, based on proposals from the political parties.

"The prime minister and the government he ran have presented their resignations to me," President Andry Rajoelina told reporters. "I have accepted the resignation of the government."

"I am calling on all political actors to propose the names of people they consider capable of becoming prime minister and running a government to move toward elections," he said.

The new road map allows Rajoelina to remain in office until free and fair elections are held, and to appoint a prime minister proposed by the parties. Parliament and the electoral commission will expand to become more inclusive.

"We will know the name of the prime minister at the start of next week at the latest. The person will then form a government," Rajoelina, Africa's youngest president, said.

Madagascar plunged into crisis in 2009. Weeks of often violent protests drove former President Marc Ravalomanana into exile in South Africa and Rajoelina took over.

Rajoelina's power-grab was branded a coup abroad, several Western nations froze aid and the African Union eventually slapped sanctions on the president and his allies, all but isolating the world's fourth largest island diplomatically.

SADC had long called for Rajoelina to step down so Ravalomanana could return to power, but the bloc shifted its stance significantly earlier this year by recommending Rajoelina be recognized as interim president until elections.

The road map does not set a date for presidential elections. Instead, it says an independent electoral commission and United Nations representatives will agree a date based on evaluations of how soon a credible vote can be held.

(Writing by David Clarke; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)