Nqakula heads to SADC meeting on Madagascar

Defence Minister Charles Nqakula will lead South Africa’s delegation to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika meeting in Swaziland on the political upheaval in Madagascar, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

President Kgalema Motlanthe has criticised the toppling of Marc Ravalomanana as Madagascar’s president.

The SADC security organ, which groups South Africa, Swaziland and Angola, would meet in the Swazi capital of Mbabane on Thursday to review the situation on the impoverished Indian Ocean island.

“The SADC Organ Troika meeting is convened specifically to discuss the current situation and developments in Madagascar following the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana on Tuesday March 18 and the hand-over of power to the military,” the foreign ministry said.

It quoted Motlanthe, the current SADC chairperson, as saying he regretted Ravalomanana’s resignation, which came after mutinous soldiers seized a presidential palace in Antananarivo, and the “unconstitutional attempts undertaken by the opposition that led to the resignation”.

“South Africa and SADC will never countenance the unconstitutional transfer of power from a democratically elected government in any of our member states,” said Motlanthe.

Ravalomanana’s arch rival Andry Rajoelina was ushered into power by the army this week and confirmed by the Constitutional Court as acting president on Wednesday.

Zambia has called on both SADC and the African Union to suspend Madagascar.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said it was not clear whether a suspension was one of the issues delegates to the troika meeting would discuss.

He added that the troika did not have the power to suspend Madagascar as a SADC member but could only make a recommendation in this regard to the heads of state of the 15-nation regional bloc.—Sapa

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