Madagascar rivals vie for presidency

Madagascar’s political leaders were due to wrap up talks on Thursday on who should lead a transitional government despite a deadlock as negotiations entered their final day.

“Whatever the circumstances, we’re going to finish today. The delegations leave tonight,” said mediator Edem Kodjo on his way to the talks.

Talks were extended for a further day on Wednesday as Madagascar’s power-brokers failed to reach a consensus on the make-up of the transitional government.

The island’s rival leaders are seeking a way out of the political crisis that has enveloped the country since Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of capital Antananarivo, ousted president Marc Ravalomanana with military backing in March following weeks of violent protests.

The two rivals, together with former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, agreed on August 9 in an initial round of talks to name a transitional government that will return the country until democratic elections can be held.

But the current round of talks, which opened on Tuesday, has stumbled over the question of who will lead the transition.

Both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana lay claim to the transitional presidency. Rajoelina has also demanded the office of interim prime minister for a member of his camp.

Ablasse Ouedraogo, mediator for the African Union, told Agence France-Presse the talks have come close to reaching consensus on a transitional government led by Rajoelina, but got stuck on the issue of who would be prime minister.

“If [current prime minister Monja] Roindefo accepts to leave the office of prime minister to take another post ...
the whole package will be accepted, with Rajoelina in the presidency,” he said.

Under the August 9 agreement, the leaders have 30 days to name an interim government, which will organise elections by the end of 2010.—Sapa-AFP

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