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Madagascar fires foreign minister amid Russia UN vote controversy

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Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has fired his foreign minister amid reports that his exit was sparked by the country’s vote at the UN to condemn Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory.

A decree signed by Rajoelina was issued on Tuesday announcing Richard Randriamandranto’s departure and his replacement “in the interim” by the defense minister. It gave no explanation for the change.

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The move came after state TV channel TVM at the weekend reported that Randriamandranto, without consulting his bosses, had joined 142 other countries in the October 12 UN General Assembly vote that condemned Russia’s “illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions.

Madagascar had until that point followed a non-aligned position on the Ukraine war, rejecting pressure from the United States and Europe to criticize Russia for invading its neighbor.

Randriamandranto had taken the decision on the vote without consulting Rajoelina or Prime Minister Christian Ntsay, TVM said.

The controversy escalated on Monday, with some press outlets accusing Randriamandranto of insubordination.

Randriamandranto declined to answer press questions on the issue at the National Assembly on Tuesday, cautioning against “mischief-making.”

Rivo Rakotovao, in charge of coordination at the HVM opposition party, said Randriamandranto was “the fall guy, (who had been fired) to fix a diplomatic error.”

The General Assembly resolution was sparked by President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Russia was formally annexing four partly occupied regions – Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – following hastily organized referendums denounced by Ukraine and the West as a sham.

The annexation was overwhelmingly condemned, by 143 votes to five. Thirty-five nations abstained, including China, India, South Africa and Pakistan.

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