Madagascar rivals wrangle over posts in transition govt

Madagascar’s power-brokers on Wednesday tackled the thorny question of who will lead a new transitional government meant to guide the island nation to elections, in talks in the Mozambican capital.

The country fell into crisis in March when Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital Antananarivo, overthrew president Marc Ravalomanana with military backing following weeks of violent street protests.

The rival leaders, together with ex-presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, began meeting on Tuesday in Maputo to divide up the top posts in the new government, which was agreed on August 9 during a first round of talks.

“They haven’t reached an understanding on any sensitive post,” one source close to the talks said.

Under the deal, the rivals will establish a transitional government in the large Indian Ocean island country and hold democratic elections by the end of 2010.

The four leaders represent Madagascar’s main political movements, and each has set out its own proposals, according to sources close to the talks, which are mediated by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.

Under the August 9 agreement, the four leaders must name an interim government by September 8.

No member of the transitional government except its president will be eligible to run in the expected 2010 presidential election.

Rajoelina, the country’s current leader, has declared on national television that only he could be the transitional president.

Ousted president Ravalomanana, in exile in South Africa since his overthrow, has promised not to seek a direct role in the interim government.

The talks are scheduled to wrap up later on Wednesday. — AFP

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