Madagascar president enlarges cabinet, appoints new finance minister

Madagascar’s president nominated a new finance minister in an expanded cabinet, days after firing all ministries for “poor performance” and weeks after an alleged attempt to assassinate the former coup leader was foiled. 

Andry Rajoelina said in a televised address late Sunday that Rindra Hasimbelo Rabarinirinarison will become finance minister, one of 11 women appointed to a cabinet that has grown from 25 to 32 ministers.

Rabarinirinason was previously a top official in the finance ministry and the head of the public procurement commission for the Indian Ocean island nation.

“You were chosen because you are seen as being able to do better and achieve more,” Rajoelina told the new appointees.

Ten ministers from the previous government were re-instated, including military minister General Léon Richard Rakotonirina. 

Rajoelina enlarged the size of the cabinet by dividing some ministries, such as agriculture, livestock, and fisheries. 

On Aug. 2, prosecutors announced the arrest of 21 more people, including 12 military officers, in connection with a plot to kill Rajoelina and overthrow the government. 

Six persons were arrested in July on suspicion of being involved in the conspiracy, one of whom was a French citizen, following a months-long investigation, according to officials.

Madagascar, a 26-million-strong impoverished former French colony, has a history of political violence and instability during the days of Didier Ratsiraka . Rajoelina, 44, was inaugurated as president in 2019 following a contentious election and a constitutional court appeal by his opponent. 

In addition, Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. The United Nations predicted in July that the number of critically malnourished children in the country would treble to at least half a million.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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