France, UN warn against Madagascar military option

France and the United Nations both warned on Tuesday against military intervention to resolve Madagascar’s political crisis, a day after African economic bloc the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) said such a move should not be discounted.

The international community is urging the Indian Ocean island’s feuding political parties to forge a negotiated settlement following the military-backed ouster of former leader Marc Ravalomanana in March.

Political turmoil has gripped the country since the beginning of the year, hurting economic growth and prompting several donors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States, to freeze non-emergency aid.

UN envoy Tiebile Drame said Comesa, a 19-member group of Eastern and Southern African nations, should focus its efforts on supporting the political process.

On Monday, the economic bloc called for a return to democracy in Madagascar and said military intervention to restore constitutional order could be an option.

“This sort of statement does not help. We don’t need this kind of declaration,” Drame told reporters at a hotel in the capital where the on-off crisis talks are taking place.

France, accused by Ravalomanana of backing President Andry Rajoelina, said it far preferred dialogue under the auspices of the African Union to any prospect of a military intervention.

“We feel that military intervention is not the right idea,” French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Eric Chevallier told reporters at a regular briefing.

Ravalomanana, exiled in South Africa, says he remains the legitimate head of state.—Reuters

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