/ 28 October 2009

AU: Madagascar’s rivals to meet over power-sharing

Madagascar’s leaders will meet next week for another attempt at sealing a power-sharing deal aimed at restoring constitutional order, the African Union (AU) said.

Ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana has continued to reject any deal that sees Andry Rajoelina hold onto the presidency on the Indian Ocean island, eyed by major foreign companies for its oil and mineral resources.

The meeting will take place in Ethiopia’s capital on November 3 to 5, AU special envoy Ablasse Ouedraogo said.

”At Addis Ababa we will have one sole objective: to build the structures [of government] and fill the key posts which remain vacant,” Ouedraogo told reporters late on Tuesday.

Rajoelina, who at 35 is Africa’s youngest leader, toppled Ravalomanana in a coup in March with military support after weeks of popular protests against the former leader’s alleged abuse of power.

Ravalomanana opposed a reshuffle of key posts earlier this month, endorsed by the international community, which saw Rajoelina retain the presidency and a relatively unknown social anthropology professor picked as prime minister.

Rajoelina’s former prime minister, Monja Roindefo, who backed the power-grab also refuses to step down.

Ouedraogo said he expected all four power-brokers who signed an initial August power-sharing agreement in Mozambique — Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and former presidents Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka — to attend the meeting in Addis Ababa.

Earlier this week, the now exiled Ravalomanana told supporters by phone he would never put his name to a deal that legitimised the unconstitutional seizure of power.

The self-made millionaire scuppered the last attempt to hold talks in Geneva a fortnight ago, demanding negotiations be held in an African country.

Rajoelina has called for elections by April next year. — Reuters