Madagascar rivals tackle core of political deadlock

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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