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Madagascan president to address nation after impeachment vote


Hery Rajaonarimampianina

Hery Rajaonarimampianina

Madagascan President Hery Rajaonarimampianina prepared to address the nation on Wednesday after parliament voted to impeach him in a move that threatened to revive political instability in the Indian Ocean island.

Rajaonarimampianina came to power in 2013 elections, vowing to end years of turmoil after his predecessor Marc Ravalomanana was ousted in a coup in 2009.

But opposition to his rule has grown in recent months and the parliamentary vote late Tuesday was overwhelming in favour of dismissing him for alleged constitutional violations and incompetence.

Madagascar’s constitutional court will now decide whether the impeachment process against Rajaonarimampianina can be enacted.

Rajaonarimampianina was due to speak on state television, according to his office.

The US embassy had pledged support for the president and called on parliament to put the stability of the country first, but the plea fell on deaf ears.

Rajaonarimampianina, a trained accountant, promised a better life for the inhabitants of one of the world’s poorest countries when he came to power.

But his opponents say he has failed to deliver on his economic programme and accuse him of stalling on the establishment of a high court and on promised reforms.

Many of his political allies have turned their backs on him.

Andry Rajoelina, who came to power in the 2009 coup and later served as the island’s transitional president, helped to get the president elected two years ago.

Rajoelina and Ravalomanana have jostled for power for years, but on Tuesday their rival camps joined forces to vote against the president.

– Reconciliation at risk –

Lawmaker Tinoka Roberto, a Rajoelina supporter, said before the vote: “I am sorry, but nothing works in this country at the moment.

“(Rajaonarimampianina) might understand accountancy, but he doesn’t know how to run a country. He is surrounded by amateurs.”

The parliamentary motion was backed by 121 of the 125 lawmakers who voted, easily clearing the two-thirds majority required.

The result was greeted with applause from many lawmakers, but some alleged the vote had been ridden with irregularities.

One who refused to take part, Lydia Raharimalala, claimed there had only been around 70 lawmakers in parliament when they were called to vote.

“There’s something wrong, there was cheating,” she said, and promised to take her claims to the constitutional court.

Ravalomanana was held under house arrest in the northern town of Antsiranana (also known as Diego Suarez) since returning from exile in South Africa in October 2014.

He was freed by Rajaonarimampianina in May after apparently recognising the legitimacy of the government.

National reconciliation was one of the main points of a roadmap brokered by the southern African regional bloc SADC and signed by the feuding parties in 2011 to end political crises that have long plagued the country.

The 2013 election was designed to resolve the chronic instability that brought international isolation and wrecked the Madagascan economy.

The island, a former French colony with a population of 23 million, is famed for its unique wildlife that has evolved due to its geographic isolation.

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