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Madagascar's Rajoelina rejects accords

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar - ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — A former disc jockey who seized power in Madagascar is defying international efforts to resolve the crisis on an Indian Ocean island known for its rare wildlife and fractious politics.

Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, a top aide to one of Madagascar's former presidents, said Monday that the latest moves by Andry Rajoelina were "an illegal decision made by an illegal authority."

Rajoelina, who took power in March with the military's backing, on Sunday declared "null and void" agreements sponsored by international mediators to create a transitional coalition. The transitional government, in which Rakotovahiny was a co-president and representative of former President Albert Zafy, was to have organized elections by November 2010.

Instead, Rajoelina has named his own prime minister — a top ranking military official — and unilaterally declared he would hold elections in March, 2010.

"In making this decision, Andry Rajoelina is jettisoning consensus and returning to his own agenda, that of taking power by force and unconstitutionally," said Fetison Andrianirina, the second co-president in the transitional government and a representative of the president Rajoelina ousted in March, Marc Ravalomanana. Rajoelina was president of the proposed transitional coalition, with the two co-presidents acting as checks on his power.

It was not clear what would become of attempts to put a transitional coalition in place. Rajoelina's rivals have called a meeting Tuesday in Antananarivo of politicians they have designated as members of parliament under the international accords.

Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, the main Madagascar mediator, was curt when an AP reporter called seeking his reaction.

"I have no comment. I have no any comment on this," he said.

Rajoelina has repeatedly taken defiant steps since coming to power in what African governments called a coup. The AU has condemned Rajoelina and suspended Madagascar until it has a government elected through fair and transparent elections.

Ravalomanana and his two predecessors, Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka, met in Mozambique earlier this month for talks mediated by African leaders and named ministers for a unity government. Rajoelina boycotted the negotiations, calling the outcome a coup. Rajoelina then briefly barred some of his rivals from returning to Madagascar.

Rajoelina — who has proclaimed himself president of a High Authority of Transition of Madagascar — tried to speak at the U.N. General Assembly in September, but was voted down, opposed chiefly by African nations.

Rajoelina first gained fame in his homeland as a disc jockey and then was elected mayor of Madagascar's capital. Starting last year, he led a campaign of street protests that, with the military's help, culminated with Ravalomanana's ouster. Rajoelina was 34, six years too young to be president according to the country's constitution.

Rajoelina accused Ravalomanana, a wealthy businessman, of misuse of office and being blind to the poverty of his people. Ravalomanana says his rival, a former mayor of the capital and before that a disc jockey, is a populist and rabble-rouser with little genuine interest in democracy.

Infighting has been a hallmark of Madagascar's politics.

In 2001, Ravalomanana clashed with former President Didier Ratsiraka when both claimed the presidency after a disputed election. After low-level fighting split the country between two governments, two capitals and two presidents, Ratsiraka fled to France in June 2002.

Ravalomanana won re-election in 2006.

Foreigners who would be hard-pressed to parse Madagascar's politics are familiar with the island off Africa's southeastern coast because of two animated "Madagascar" films. Madagascar is famous for lemurs and plants and other wildlife found nowhere else in the world.


Associated Press Writer Emmanuel Camillo in Mozambique contributed to this report.


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