/ 4 September 2009

Madagascar army rejects opposition call to power

The armed forces in Madagascar on Friday rejected a call from the opposition to head a unity government and said politicians should resolve the crisis on the Indian Ocean island.

”We are categorically against the establishment of a military government,”General Claude Ravalomanana, head of the military police, told several hundred officers from across the armed forces. ”We urge the politicians to find a solution so that the transition can establish a fourth republic.”

The country’s power-brokers have failed to agree on who should lead a consensus government tasked with restoring constitutional order after months of political instability.

The three opposition movements on Thursday called on the military to occupy the posts of president, vice-president and prime minister.

UN urges leaders to respect deal
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on Madagascar’s leaders to stick to the power-sharing deal struck last month.

”There is no alternative to a political agreement and a consensual transition,” Ban said in a written statement.

The UN secretary-general called on all parties and Madagascar’s 20-million people to remain calm and allow for a peaceful resolution.

Andry Rajoelina, who ousted former leader Marc Ravalomanana in a March coup, has up to now remained adamant that his party retains the presidency and the prime minister’s office.

Last week in Maputo at a second round of power-sharing talks, Ravalomanana rejected outright the former DJ’s nomination.

The three opposition movements called on Thursday on the military to occupy the posts of president, vice-president and prime minister.

Under the proposal, the four delegations led by Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy would make the military nominations.

”This for us is the best way to resolving the crisis. We could have a joint military-civilian government,” said Zafy.

Rajoelina, who is expected to tell mediators on Friday whether he will concede the prime minister’s office, has not responded to the idea.

The 35-year-old led weeks of street protests earlier this year, accusing Ravalomanana of being a dictator and toppled him with the help of a dissident army faction.

The international community broadly condemned the power-grab. The African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) suspended Madagascar and some donors cut aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ban said the UN was ”ready to support the implementation of the Maputo agreements and stand by the Malagasy people as the country returns to normalcy”. — Reuters