Madagascar MPs vote to impeach President Rajaonarimampianina

Madagascar MPss raise point of order during a vote on a motion to dismiss current the president - 26 May 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption To impeach a president, there needs to be a two-thirds majority

Parliamentarians in Madagascar have voted to impeach President Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

The constitutional court will now decide whether he has violated the constitution and can be dismissed.

The BBC's Martin Vogl in the capital, Antananarivo, says the late-night vote came as a surprise to many.

Mr Rajaonarimampianina has been in office for 16 months and it was hoped his election would end years of political unrest on the island nation.

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Madagascar suffered five years of political turmoil beginning in 2009 when Andry Rajoelina ousted Marc Ravalomanana from power.

The coup left the country isolated in the international community and deprived of foreign aid.

Ahead of the parliamentary vote, the US embassy in Antananarivo urged the MPs to put the stability of the country first.

Analysis: Martin Vogl, BBC News, Antananarivo:

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hery Rajaonarimampianina won a presidential run-off in December 2013

Many did not believe Madagascar's parliamentarians would go through with impeachment and put the country's recent relative political stability at risk.

However, the parliamentarians' anger has grown consistently over the last few weeks. The president does not have a solid support base in parliament and it seems he and his supporters have underestimated the level of discontent there.

MPs say the president has shown a lack of respect for the institution and its internal workings. The final straw for many has been the fact that the president has refused to expressly rule out dissolving parliament, as he has the power to do under the constitution.

The impeachment request now goes to the High Constitutional Court. Whichever way the judges decide, the political turbulence is likely to distract the government from the job of developing the country, and could also scare away investors and donors.

Under Madagascar's constitution, an impeachment vote requires a two-thirds majority of the 151 members of the national assembly.

MP Guy Rivo Randrianarisoa, who voted in favour of impeachment, said: "121 members out of the 125 who were there voted for the motion."

But in a televised address, the president has questioned whether the impeachment vote was properly carried out.

"There is a suspicion of corruption… there were 80 MPs in the room but 125 votes were counted."

President Rajaonarimampianina also criticised the MPs for risking the stability of the country because they were unhappy about the fact that certain privileges, like new cars, had not been granted to them.

"I regret that the MPs couldn't prioritise the interests of the country but put their own interests first," he said.

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