Madagascar’s ex-leader rejects Rajoelina

Madagascar’s ex-leader Marc Ravalomanana refused to accept Andry Rajoelina’s nomination as president of a transitional government tasked with guiding the country out of months of political turmoil.

Crisis talks in Mozambique were extended into a third day on Thursday after the island’s power-brokers disagreed on who would lead the country increasingly of interest to foreign companies for its oil, bauxite, nickel, cobalt, gold and uranium.

Rajoelina, who toppled Ravalomanana in March after weeks of violent street protests, has demanded the presidency. Mediators said he had the backing of one of the three other negotiating parties, but Ravalomanana has vowed to reject his nomination.

”The Ravalomanana movement will never depart from [the] respect for the right of citizens to vote,” a written statement issued by Ravalomanana’s camp said late on Wednesday.

”Therefore, it will never accept to legitimise the author of an unconstitutional change by appointing him head of the presidency.”

The communique described Rajoelina’s nomination as an insult to the Malagasy people who elected Ravalomanana through the ballot box.

Regional blocs and foreign powers including the United States and the European Union condemned former DJ Rajoelina’s rise to power and key foreign donors suspended aid.

”We’re a little blocked because we think it logical that our movement lead the transition,” Rajoelina said.

In a game of political brinkmanship in the lead up to this week’s talks — dubbed Maputo II — Rajoelina said that he was the only person to lead an eventual consensus government.

As weary faces left the talks last night, chief mediator Joaquim Chissano said the negotiations were not yet over.

”Today [Thursday] will be the last day. If they leave this place [without an agreement] they will have to try new ideas next time and fast-track the process,” Chissano added.

Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and two former presidents — Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy — have to nominate a president, a prime minister, three deputy prime ministers and 28 ministers within 30 days under the terms of a deal struck on August 9.

That agreement also saw charges of abuse of office levelled against Ravalomanana cancelled, paving the way for his return to the world’s fourth largest island after months in exile in South Africa.

In turn, Ravalomanana agreed he would not play a direct role in the transitional government mandated to hold elections within 15 months. — Reuters

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