Madagascar Names Energy Minister Amid Discontent Over Power Cuts

Madagascar’s president appointed new ministers of finance and energy, after the prime minister and government resigned this month amid rising public discontent over power cuts and lagging economic growth.

Francois Marie Maurice Gervais Rakotoarimanana was named finance minister while Horace Gatien, a former minister of vocational training, was appointed to head the Energy Ministry during a cabinet shuffle announced by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina in the capital, Antananarivo, on Sunday.

Air Force General Jean Ravelonarivo was appointed by Rajaonarimampianina as the new premier after the previous government of Prime Minister Roger Kolo quit on Jan. 12 over deteriorating living conditions.

Rajaonarimampianina assumed office a year ago with a pledge to usher in economic stability and improve the quality of life. The elections that brought the 56-year-old to power were the first since a coup six years ago plunged the country into a political and economic crisis. Power cuts have become more frequent since last year, spurring public protests.

The government will target an economic growth rate of 5 percent this year and plans to address power outages in the Indian Ocean island nation and boost social services, said Rajaonarimampianina on Sunday.

The first task of the new cabinet is to help rescue victims of a tropical storm, which has left at least 68 people dead, according to Rajaonarimampianina. At least 131,460 people are registered as “storm victims” and another 45,600 have been displaced in the wake of Tropical Storm Chedza. The country’s weather office forecasts more bad weather this week.

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