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Madagascar court approves president installed by military

[JURIST] The High Constitutional Court [official website, in French] of Madagascar [BBC backgrounder] announced in a radio address Wednesday that it would accept the military's decision [L'Express report, in French] to install opposition leader Andry Rajoelina [Reuters profile] as the country's new president, one day after the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana [BBC profile]. The court approved the presidency of 34-year-old Rajoelina despite a requirement in Madagascar's constitution [text, PDF] that the president be at least 40 years of age, declaring that his presidency would be legal for a maximum two-year term [China Daily report]. Ravalomanana passed control of the government to the military Tuesday after months of violence in hopes it would run the nation under a military directorate. The military subsequently passed power to Rajoelina, a former mayor of Madagascar's capital city of Antananarivo who had led protests against Ravalomanana's government. Members of the African Union [official website; JURIST news archive] have since decried Rajoelina's appointment as unconstitutional, indicating that the move may amount to a coup.

Madagascar has faced increasing political violence over the last two months leading to dozens of deaths. In February the police opened fire on anti-Ravalomanana demonstrators, killing 28 [BBC report]. Rajoelina was fired as mayor of Antananarivo [BBC report] in late January following his declaration that he was in charge of Madagascar and his failed efforts to impeach Ravalomanana. Much of the public unrest stemmed from criticisms that Ravalomanana failed to alleviate poverty, as well as his unpopular decision to shut down a television station [BBC report] owned by Rajoelina after the station aired an interview with one of Ravalomanana's former adversaries.

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