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Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:08 UK

Madagascar leader names cabinet

Andry Rajoelina in Antananarivo on 21 March 2009
Andry Rajoelina was defiant in the face of international criticism

The new president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, has announced the makeup of his new transitional administration.

He said the cabinet would govern until general elections could be held within the next two years.

He made the announcement just a day after Southern African leaders meeting in Swaziland called on him to vacate the presidency.

Mr Rajoelina has been universally condemned by foreign countries for ousting President Marc Ravalomanana.

Robust response

Speaking at a low-key ceremony in the capital Antananarivo, Mr Rajoelina nominated new members of the transitional authority.

Figures from across the political spectrum were included with the notable absence of those from Mr Ravalomanana's party.

He also responded robustly to the refusal of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to recognise him, says the BBC's Jonny Hogg in Antananarivo.

The new leader pointed out that Mr Ravalomanana had also struggled for acceptance when he first came to power in 2002 and said the takeover was not the concern of the international community.

"The international community must not condemn or interfere with the decision taken by the constitutional high court of Madagascar.

"It was the constitutional high court who validated my power, who've validated the existence of the transfer of power. The problems that have taken place are problems between the Malagasy," the new president said.

The BBC's Jonny Hogg says there was no softening in Mr Rajoelina's rhetoric towards his predecessor either, as he flatly refused to consider any form of power sharing with his arch rival.

Continuing protests

On Monday, at least 8,000 people attended a new rally in support of Mr Ravalomanana in the capital.

The demonstrations brought the centre of the city to a standstill but there was no repeat of the violent clashes on Saturday which left more than 30 people injured.

Mr Ravalomanana addressed the crowd on the telephone from Swaziland, where he had briefed the Sadc summit on the political crisis.

He told his supporters to remain strong and promised he would return.



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