Madagascar's president names new prime minister amid public discontent

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ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar — Madagascar's president has named a new prime minister after months of widespread discontent at the performance of his government.

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina named Air Force Gen. Jean Ravelonarivo as the new head of government in a statement late Wednesday.

Ravelonarivo replaces Roger Kolo who resigned Monday along with the entire government.

Observers are concerned about the political stability of Madagascar. Risk consultancy firm, Control Risks, recently placed Madagascar on a list of countries with a high threat of political instability in 2015.

"The president had to do something to give some new impetus to the government," said Juvence Ramasy, a politics professor at the University of Toamasina. "The public is frustrated over issues such as ongoing power cuts and insecurity, especially in the south of the country."

Electricity blackouts are common and two people died following protests over power cuts in Toamasina, Madagascar's main port, in December. Other cities in Madagascar, including the capital Antananarivo, have gone for hours a day without power too.

While Rajaonarimampianina has been viewed as lacking decisiveness, part of the problem up until now has been a lack of funds, said Ramasy, who believes the Madagascan president will now court donors for much needed funds for government programs.

Madagascar returned to democratic rule after elections at the end of 2012. For five years previously the island had been run by a transitional government following a coup d'état in 2009.

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