Madagascar leaders meet

2009-08-05 16:34
Maputo - Madagascar's political foes meet on Wednesday for the first time since opposition leader Andry Rajoelina engineered the overthrow of president Marc Ravalomanana, sparking months of political deadlock.

The leaders met mediators in separate bilateral discussions ahead of the multi-party talks later on Wednesday, as Mozambique hosts a concerted push to resolve the crisis wracking its Indian Ocean neighbour.

The two foes are to meet directly in a plenary session for four days of talks involving the country's main political groups with ex-presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy also taking part.

"At 16:00 we're going to have the opening ceremony and afterward they are going to start their work - sitting and talking, it's very simple," former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, who is leading the mediation, told AFP.

All previous attempts to find a negotiated solution have floundered over the content of a transition charter supposed to take Madagascar to new elections and bring the country out of its current isolation.

"The fact that they accepted to meet shows that there is a will to find a solution," said Tiebele Drame, a member of the United Nations mediation team at the talks.

"What we are expecting is that the Madagascan leaders find solutions to the crisis," he told AFP late on Tuesday.

Rajoelina's administration has been ostracised by the international community since ousting Ravalomanana, whose delegation told AFP that the fallen leader is in Maputo with a "spirit of confidence".

"He hopes that an agreement will be signed," a delegation member said.

The pending issues include a peaceful transition to ensure stability, the issue of amnesty, leadership of the transition, the formation of a consensus government to represent all political opinions, and the return of Ravolomanana who is in exile in South Africa.

"It is up to the Madagascan political leaders to concede what it necessary to reach an agreement on a charter about the transition," said Drame.

Chissano was appointed by regional leaders in June to mediate the crisis after initiatives by the African Union and the UN broke down.
Objective: stability 

The Southern African Development Community, which handed the mediation role to Chissano, hopes the meeting will pave the way forward for the leaders.

"The objective of this meeting is to bring the parties to an agreement on the path to follow to re-establish stability and political co-existence in Madagascar," SADC executive Tomaz Salomoa told reporters on Tuesday.

Rajoelina said as he arrived on Tuesday that he would seek consensus to end the crisis.

"We have come here to Maputo to find a consensus by working with the three former heads of state in Madagascar," said Rajoelina, before heading into talks with mediators.

"I have come here personally to tell them to their face how I see the future of Madagascar," he added.

Former president Zafy, who led Madagascar from 1993-96, stressed the importance of the talks, saying the crisis was serious and hoped the meeting would be fruitful.

"At the meeting in Maputo, we hope that we will find a solution," he said.

Madagascar had been in crisis since January because of a standoff between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, then mayor of the capital and leader of an increasingly vociferous opposition.

After demonstrations that left more than 100 dead, Ravalomanana, abandoned by the army, put power in the hands of a military directorate who immediately transferred it to Rajoelina.

Since then, the international community has been demanding a return to "constitutional order" and has suspended the bulk of its aid to Madagascar, one of the poorest nations in the world.
Read more on:    madagascar

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.