Jubilant supporters cheered the installation of Madagascar’s army-backed new leader Andry Rajoelina on Saturday — but foreign ambassadors stayed away in a unanimous show of international disapproval.

Reuters reporters among the 40,000-strong crowd at Antananarivo’s main sports stadium said they saw no foreign envoy present. Music blasted and military marksmen stood on rooftops at the ceremony in the sweltering city. The 34-year-old opposition leader took over this week after leading months of protests against President Marc Ravalomanana.

That unrest killed at least 135 people, scared away tourists and unsettled investors in the Indian Ocean island’s fast-developing mining and oil sectors.Ravalomanana, 59, handed over to the military, who in turn conferred power on Rajoelina to be president.

At Saturday’s event, Rajoelina said his priorities were to combat poverty and ensure security. “My first priority is to improve people’s lives,” he told the crowd. In the strongest show of displeasure from abroad, the African Union has suspended Madagascar, which lies off the continent’s east coast and has a history of volatile politics.

Major Western powers including the United States and the European Union have termed Rajoelina’s rise a coup d’etat and called for early elections. Several nations have suspended aid



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