AU urges Madagascar leaders to stick to deal

The African Union (AU) called on Madagascar’s feuding leaders on Tuesday to resume negotiations and establish a consensus government aimed at ending months of instability on the Indian Ocean island.

AU chief Jean Ping said it was imperative the country’s power-brokers adhere to the terms of a power-sharing deal struck in August in Mozambique that paved the way for a unity government tasked with restoring constitutional order.

“There is no other alternative to the Maputo agreement signed by the four [political leaders] on August 9,” Ping told an International Contact Group meeting that started on Tuesday on island’s capital, Antananarivo.

Ping told assembled foreign envoys the international community had a responsibility to bring the country’s political players back to the negotiating table, but stressed only the Malagasy people could determine a way out of the crisis.

Armed riot police briefly distracted the diplomats as they fired tear-gas at a few dozen whistle-blowing protestors who waved banners reading: “SADC out, ICG out.”

Political turmoil has rocked the oil and mineral-rich island since Andry Rajoelina (35) spearheaded a violent campaign of street protests earlier this year, culminating in a military backed coup which unseated former president Marc Ravalomanana.

The international community branded the power-grab unconstitutional and key donors suspended aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Foreign powers say Rajoelina flouted the terms of the power-share deal when he unilaterally formed a government last month which included former allies of his political adversaries.

Rajoelina on Sunday told the international community he would choose a new prime minister if donors unblocked frozen funds.

“I invite you [ICG] to examine the proposal made by Rajoelina under the guise of a solution to the crisis, bearing in mind that a return to constitutional order implies a consensual process with all political actors involved,” Ping said.

The ICG was expected to meet the four political movements individually, but is now scheduled hold talks with all of them jointly.—Reuters

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