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06 Aug 2009 10:02
Madagascar’s rivals will tackle the core of the country’s political deadlock on Thursday as crisis talks resume between interim leader Andry Rajoelina and ex-president Marc Ravalomanana, a source said.
“The first day was a reunion, they were a bit shy. The participants will on Thursday go into the core of the matter,” a source from the mediation team said late on Wednesday.
The country’s four main political leaders, including ex-presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, are meeting for first-time direct talks in the Mozambican capital in an internationally backed effort to end the crisis.
Rajoelina took power in March with army-backing after violent riots left more than 100 people dead, but has been ostracised by the international community since the overthrow.
At the opening day of the four-day talks, the pair exchanged a handshake after an initial icy atmosphere.
“They are in good spirits and respectful towards each other,” said Edem Kodjo of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (French-speaking countries), referring to Ravalomanana and Rajoelina.
Ravalomanana, in a meeting with mediators led by former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano on Wednesday, pledged to work to restore constitutional order and called for a return to the rule of law and for reconciliation to start.
“Democracy should be respected and ensured at all costs.
Therefore, as we work together to find a solution to this crisis, the will of Malagasy people must come before all else,” he said in a statement of his remarks to mediators.
The mediation team includes officials from the African Union, United Nations, the International Organisation of the Francophonie and the Southern African Development Community.—Sapa-AFP
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