Antananarivo, Apr 9: Madagascar's presidency has announced the resignation of Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo after weeks of political conflict, a claim swiftly denied by the head of government who said he planned to step down in the future.
Ravelonarivo and President Hery Rajaonarimampianina have been in conflict over issues including the poor condition of the island's main roads and rising crime in the capital Antananarivo.
Rajaonarimampianina won elections in 2013 but has been beset by opposition to his rule, with lawmakers trying to unseat him for alleged constitutional violations and incompetence.
"The president has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo," the presidency said in a statement yesterday that gave no reason for the move.
"Until the formation of a new government, members of the outgoing government will oversee government affairs." However, hours later the prime minister insisted he had not stepped down.
"I spoke with the president this morning about a resignation and I said that I would first speak to my family," Ravelonarivo told reporters in his office.
"After that meeting, in my car, I heard the announcement of my resignation," he added. "Up to now I have not resigned. However, in the greater interests of the nation I will tender my resignation at a more opportune moment," he explained, without giving a date.
The Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar has endured several years of turmoil after Marc Ravalomanana was ousted as president in a 2009 coup that led to the withdrawal of foreign investment and donor money.
In 2013, a presidential election that was designed to resolve complex power struggles brought Rajaonarimampianina to power. Ravelonarivo took office as prime minister last year.
Madagascar remains one of the world's poorest countries, heavily dependent on foreign aid, and any renewed political trouble could threaten development.
The country off Africa's southeastern coast with a population of 23 million is famed for its unique wildlife, the result of evolution through geographical isolation.