Madagascar’s new leader vows to combat widespread corruption

Madagascar's outgoing president Andry Rajoelina greets the crowds during a presidential handover ceremony at Iavoloha Presidential Palace in Antananarivo on January 24, 2014. Rajoelina stood down, symbolically handing over power ahead of his elected successor's inauguration, a move designed to steer the Indian Ocean island out of crisis. AFP PHOTO / RIJASOLO (Photo credit should read RIJASOLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Madagascar presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina casts his ballot during the presidential election at a polling centre in Antananarivo, Madagascar November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Malin Palm

Madagascar’s new president has been sworn in and vows to establish independent bodies to combat the Indian Ocean island nation’s widespread corruption.

Andry Rajoelina, who led the country from 2009 to 2014 in a transitional government after a military coup, told a crowd in the capital on Saturday that for the first time since independence Madagascar is seeing a peaceful, democratic transfer of power between two elected leaders.

The 44-year-old Rajoelina won in a runoff after the high constitutional court rejected all complaints filed over the results. Rival candidate and former President Marc Ravalomanana had alleged massive fraud on election day but later congratulated Rajoelina on his win.

More than two-thirds of Madagascar’s 25 million people live in extreme poverty, and Rajoelina pledges to restructure the economy for “strong growth.”