Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Madagascar Leaders to Meet in Bid to Resolve Political Deadlock

Madagascar: Leaders to Meet in New Bid to Resolve Political Deadlock

John Allen
27 April 2010
Cape Town — Four months after Madagascar's de facto leader Andry Rajoelina repudiated internationally-brokered mechanisms aimed at restoring constitutional rule, African leaders will make a new attempt this week to resolve the country's political deadlock.

The South African government announced Tuesday that President Jacob Zuma would facilitate "a face-to-face meeting" in Pretoria on Wednesday between Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, the president whom he ejected from power a year ago, as well as former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy.

"It is hoped that the dialogue will result in the parties agreeing on the implementation of an all-inclusive process that ensures the holding of credible, free and fair elections, as well as ... national reconciliation," the South African announcement said.

The talks are being held at the request of former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano, the mediator appointed by the Southern African Development Community to facilitate talks to return Madagascar to constitutional rule.

Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, the Ravalomanana camp released what it said was the text of the "framework for discussion document" which would guide the four leaders during talks.

The document said that "The first principle will be to reach an agreement to resolve the crisis which requires ... agreement between Andry Rajoelina and President Marc Ravalomanana.

"Such an agreement will be considered as sufficient consensus to move the process forward. However, the optimal positions would be to obtain agreement of all four mouvances [movements]."

The "second principle" would be "to bring about efforts to ensure stability in Madagascar with no room for unilateral action by either party" and the third would be to "resolve the impasse regarding transitional arrangements" to facilitate "the election of a stable government based on democratic processes."

The current crisis in Madagascar was precipitated when Rajoelina, the former mayor of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, seized power last March.

In talks brokered by Chissano, Rajoelina initially joined the three former presidents in signing agreements last August and November which laid the basis of a transition back to democracy. But he then backed out of the process and fired an interim prime minister appointed under the deal.

Talks have been in stalemated since Rajoelina boycotted a meeting in Maputo last December at which the leaders of the main parties finalized an interim administration to run the country until new elections.

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