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Madagascar leader tears up power-sharing agreements

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has formally rejected internationally brokered power-sharing deals and said any attempt by the opposition to form a parliament this week would be illegal.

Rajoelina named an army colonel as his new prime minister on Sunday after months of power-sharing talks to end nearly a year of instability on the Indian Ocean island collapsed.

In a statement published late on Sunday night, Rajoelina said Friday’s presidential decree firing his prime minister annulled an earlier decree signed in September ratifying peace accords signed in Mozambique and Ethiopia.

The 35-year-old instigator of a coup in March said the posts of two co-presidents --created under the terms of a deal reached in the Ethiopian capital-- and that of speaker of parliament were therefore scrapped.

“Consequently, the (opposition’s) notice of meeting for parliament to convene is illegal,” said the statement.

Political turmoil has convulsed Madagascar after repeated large-scale protests by Rajoelina’s supporters and the backing of dissident troops ended with the overthrow of former President Marc Ravalomanana.

Rajoelina, Ravalomanana, and two other ex-leaders, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy have since squabbled for months over who should hold which top jobs in a consensus government.

Opposition leaders on the world’s fourth largest island, eyed by foreign investors for its vast oil and mineral resources, have said they will form a unity government before the Christmas period. They also plan to recall parliament.

Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, one of the two dismissed co-presidents, told Reuters tearing up the power-sharing deals would call into question Rajoelina’s own legitimacy.

“Rajoelina was named by the four political movements as part of the deal. He is there (in office) only as a result of the legality of the Maputo agreement,” he said in reference to the initial deal signed in August in Mozambique’s capital.

Rajoelina has said Madagascar will hold parliamentary elections on March 20 prior to reforming the constitution. No timetable has been set for a presidential poll.

Additional reporting by Alain Iloniaina; editing by Matthew Jones