SADC urges world to shun Madagascar leader

Southern African leaders urged the international community on Thursday to reject plans by Madagascar’s military-backed Andry Rajoelina to ignore power-sharing talks and hold an election.

The leaders said after a special meeting on Madagascar and Zimbabwe organised by the security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that they were deeply concerned about the Indian Ocean island’s political crisis.

Rajoelina, who toppled former president Marc Ravalomanana in a military-backed coup last March, is forging ahead with unilateral plans for parliamentary polls, weeks after a power-sharing government appeared within grasp.

“The summit rejects any attempt to use democratic means, institutions and processes to legitimise governments that came to power through unconstitutional means,” said a SADC statement after the meeting in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

“The summit also rejects the unilateral plan of the ‘de facto’ government of Madagascar to ‘reorganise’ the transition and hold legislative elections in March 2010,” it said.

SADC, which has suspended Madagascar from membership of the bloc, called for the resumption of power-sharing talks. Rajoelina (35) tore up a series of internationally brokered agreements shortly before Christmas and appointed a senior military officer as prime minister to govern the country, which is increasingly eyed by outsiders for its oil and minerals.

SADC said little on Zimbabwe, apart from urging all parties to “implement decisions made”.

President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, formed a unity government last February after disputed elections, but the coalition has been hobbled by feuds over power-sharing.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are haggling over the appointment of provincial governors and the 85-year-old president’s refusal to swear in Tsvangirai ally Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

He has also refused to sack allies he appointed as central bank governor and attorney general.

Mugabe says the MDC should call off Western sanctions against his Zanu-PF party and ask its backers in the West to shut down what he calls pirate radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from the United States and Britain.

The unity government is struggling to reverse a decade of economic collapse in Zimbabwe.—Reuters

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