Madagascar Opposition Parties have slammed President Andry Rajoelina over an ‘institutional coup” after he appointed an ally prime minister following his resignation before the presidential polls.
President Rajoelina, 49, resigned last week in order to recontest for the November 9 presidential polls as demanded by the Madagascar constitution.
According to reports, the country’s High Constitutional Court declared that presidential powers would now be collectively held by the government with Prime Minister Christian Ntsay as the head.
The move was denounced by Madagascar’s opposition parties, including two former presidents, in a letter received by the electoral authorities on Tuesday.
In the letter, signed by 10 of 13 candidates for the presidential polls, it was argued that the court rulings that handed leadership of the East African country to Ntsay were dictated by President Rajoelina and his cabinet to favour him in the November election.
The letter read, “The powers (that be)… carried out a real institutional coup with the aim of putting the Prime Minister in charge of the state during the presidential electoral period in order to manipulate the results for the benefit of their candidate.”
The Senate President, Herimanana Razafimahefa, was supposed to take over power from President Rajoelina but declined due to “personal reasons” with Ntsay left to head the collegial government.
The court accepted Razafimahefa’s move following its dismissal of appeals for Rajoelina’s candidacy to be declared void due to his French citizenship under the 2014 naturalization.
“The renunciation made by the President of the Senate is not provided for anywhere in the Constitution,” the letter added.
Madagascar’s election is slated for November 9 as voters of one of the world’s poorest countries, despite its vast resources, look towards an improved economy.
The Constitutional Court however dismissed the accusations made by the opposition.
Head of Madagascar’s High Court, Florent Rakotoarisoa, told AFP that “The President of the Senate renounced the office. We cannot force him to take the reins of power,” adding that the court’s decision was lawful with the intention to “ensure the continuity of the State”.
President Rajoelina launched a grand campaign at a stadium at the country’s capital, Antananarivo, last week even before the court’s announcement of his candidacy.
He took leadership in 2009 after a coup that forced former president Marc Ravalomanana out of power.
Ravalomananana is one of the presidential candidates heading to the November polls.
Due to pressure from the international community, Rajoelina did not contest in the 2013 election but was voted back as president in 2018.
The national coordinator for presidential candidate Auguste Paraina, Eleonore Johasy, told AFP that the rulings of the Constitutional Court were “taken at odd hours, so that there would be no chance to oppose them.”
She stated that “Confidence is crumbling. All the shenanigans and manoeuvres do not promote trust in the different authorities.”
In 2021, Rajoelina sacked all his serving ministers, days after he criticized some of their performances as below par and weeks after officials said they had thwarted a plot to kill the former coup leader.
A court in Madagascar had convicted six people that year over a plot to kill the president and handed them various sentences of up to 20 years in prison with hard labour.
French-Malagasy dual national Paul Rafanoharana, who local media reported was once an adviser to the president, was handed the highest punishment in the trial for conspiring to kill his former boss.