January 24, 2019 / 4:28 PM / 10 months ago

Madagascar names new finance minister, part of a leaner cabinet

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar has appointed Richard Randriamandranto as its economy and finance minister, the presidency said on Thursday, as part of a leaner cabinet that the president said was part of austerity measures.

The announcement was made days after Christian Ntsay was retained as its prime minister, following a presidential election late last year.

Prior to being named to his new post, Randriamandranto was an adviser to Nstay, and he has also previously been in charge of research and strategy at trade bloc Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Randriamandranto is part of a 22 member cabinet, which is smaller than the previous one that had 29 members.

“All this in the interests of austerity and not to spend public money,” President Andry Rajoelina said after the cabinet was named.

Though relative political stability since a 2013 election has enabled the economy to recover, the country of 25 million people remains among Africa’s poorest. About 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day.

Rajoelina was sworn in on Saturday for a five-year term in office after beating his political rival, former president Marc Ravalomanana, in a second round of voting held in December.

The election marked the second peaceful election since upheaval in 2009, when Ravalomanana was forced out of office by protests led by Rajoelina in what the African Union and other international organizations said was a coup.

Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alison Williams

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