A month and a half has passed since Madagascar’s new president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, was sworn in and the results of the parliamentary elections were validated by the electoral court. Yet Madagascar seems no closer to having a new prime minister and a government.
Many expected the new PM to be nominated shortly after the national assembly’s first session on 18 February but the omission of a key word in the 2010 constitution has thrown members of parliament and constitutional law experts alike into a furious debate. The key word is “absolute”, in relation to the majority required in parliament to nominate the Prime Minister.
The constitution simply says that it is the party with a majority in parliament who has the right to nominate the premier (who must then be approved by the president). In the current context, this privilege falls to MAPAR, the party supporting coup leader Andry Rajoelina, who won 76 seats out of 151 in parliament. This has been widely disputed by constitutional experts, who argue that a relative majority would make it impossible to govern.
Case in point, a coalition of 95 MPs opposed to MAPAR set up the Plateforme pour la Majorité Présidentielle (PMP, Platform for the Presidential Majority) in a bid to claim absolute majority in parliament and trump MAPAR’s PM nomination.
Both MAPAR and PMP have therefore put forward a candidate: MAPAR has suggested Haja André Resampa, former general secretary of the presidency during the transition, while PMP has nominated Rolland Jules Etienne, a disqualified candidate in the first round of the presidential elections (who, incidentally, nominated Rajaonarimampianina as his replacement in the presidential race).
The president has so far refused to choose. He’s agreed with the principle that MAPAR should have the right to choose but he’s asked that the party consult with other political entities. Current Premier Jean-Omer Beriziky, who is popular with the international community, is thought to be favoured by the president, although MAPAR isn’t so keen. Rajoelina for his part announced earlier last month that he would no longer seek the PM’s job after it became clear that the president was keen to distance himself from the transition regime.
There is no deadline in the constitution by which the president must choose a Prime Minister and given the importance of the appointment, it’s unlikely Rajaonarimampianina will rush. Madagascar will have to wait a while longer for the post-coup era to start in earnest.