Madagascar's Rajoelina confirmed as interim president
Antananarivo (Madagascar), March 18 (DPA) Andry Rajoelina officially became Madagascar's new president after the country's top court Wednesday sanctioned his controversial, army-backed elevation to power.
The constitutional court found that ex-president Marc Ravalomanana's transfer of power to a panel of senior military officers, and their subsequent handover of power to the erstwhile opposition leader, was legal.
Rajoelina, 34, had asked the court to formalise his army-backed accession to power, which follows a two-month campaign of opposition demonstrations over Ravalomanana's clampdown on some basic freedoms and some controversial spending.
The former mayor of the capital Antananarivo has said he will hold elections within two years after changing the constitution, which currently bars anyone under 40 from being president.
On Tuesday, Ravalomanana finally caved into pressure to quit after losing control of government and the army and entrusted the military with the country's interim leadership.
The military then handed that power to Rajoelina, despite appeals from the African Union not to do so.
On Wednesday, Rajoelina was acclaimed by thousands of supporters as he rode through the streets of Antananarivo with troops in an open-top vehicle to a square to deliver his victory speech.
Before the court ruling, Madagascar's neighbours in the Southern African Development Community had expressed concerns about the ousting of the democratically-elected Ravalomanana.
Analysts say Rajoelina's investiture will help restore stability to the impoverished island, at least in the short term.
The economy of the resource-rich but poor island has been crippled by the protests and strikes.
Over 100 people have been killed in the unrest since January.
Ravalomanana's whereabouts are unknown. He appeared on television Tuesday night to confirm his resignation.
The army Tuesday evening took over the presidential palace south of the capital Antananarivo, where he had held out for days with a group of supporters. They met no resistance.
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