/ 2 December 2009

Madagascar opposition says leader stalling govt talks

Madagascar’s opposition has accused the country’s leader Andry Rajoelina of stalling negotiations on forming a consensus government, threatening the latest power-sharing deal.

One of the Indian Ocean island’s two co-presidents accused Rajoelina, who took power in a military-backed coup in March, of denting hopes of restoring constitutional order and winning back frozen donor funds.

”For the moment, we don’t see anything changing because of Andry Rajoelina’s lack of will and determination,” Fetison Andrianirina told reporters late on Tuesday.

Andrianirina, who is a close ally of former President Marc Ravalomanana who was ousted in the coup, said Rajoelina was being pulled in different directions by his supporters.

He called on all government ministers picked by Rajoelina in September, in violation of an earlier power-sharing deal under which ministerial appointments should have been agreed by all parties, to step down without delay or conditions.

Madagascar’s political leaders are deadlocked on who takes which top Cabinet posts. The negotiations follow November’s agreement struck in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to form a unity government and end months of political turmoil.

Talks between Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy are at an impasse over 11 ministries, with the justice portfolio at the heart of the bickering.

Rajoelina (35) this week rejected an invitation to hold fresh talks in Mozambique on December 3 and 4. He argued that a video conference would suffice and be cheaper. His opponents argue he is playing for time.

The political crisis that has rocked Madagascar since earlier this year has alarmed foreign investors and sent the economy into negative growth.

African nations and foreign donors say the establishment of a unity government and a roadmap to fresh elections are essential for the international community to resume work with the diplomatically isolated Indian Ocean island. — Reuters