Madagascar launches fresh bid to resolve crisis

Madagascar’s coup government launched a fresh effort on Monday to resolve an 18-month political crisis that has brought the Indian Ocean island international isolation.

About 4 000 civil society members and politicians gathered outside the capital, Antananarivo, for a week-long conference on an interim government, a new constitution, elections and national reconciliation.

But representatives of key political leaders including ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, his predecessors Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy stayed away, saying they did not want to “endorse this effort doomed to fail.”

Neither did Andry Rajoelina, who overthrew Ravalomanana in March 2009 with the army’s backing, attend Monday’s opening.

“The government is simply facilitating the logistics and financing of the conference,” Paul Ramino, a council of elders leader, said in a speech to justify Rajoelina’s absence.

Madagascar has been bogged down in the crisis sparked by Rajoelina’s power grab that prompted the African Union and the Southern African Development Community suspend its membership until a return of a constitutional order.

Rajoelina has spurned all the deals brokered by the two blocs to resolve the turmoil. — Sapa-AFP

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