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UN special envoy meets Madagascan political rivals
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09:34, February 27, 2009

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UN special envoy Haile Menkerios met Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina separately here on Thursday soon after his arrival in the island country.

No details of his meeting with Ravalomanana were revealed officially but Rajoelina, the former mayor of the capital city, told a press conference after his meeting with Menkerios that the UN representative had asked President Ravalomanana to set up a transitional government and hold an earlier national election.

Rajoelina expressed his appreciation of the neutral position taken by the UN envoy during its mediation to the current political crisis, which began last December.

He said that he would not continue the talk with President Ravalomanana for the moment due to his non-respect of the agreement they reached on Saturday.

President Ravalomanana did not show up at the meeting with Rajoelina on Wednesday amid security reasons.

Rajoelina urged the armed force not to open fire to his supporters during the scheduled anti-government demonstration he has called on the coming Saturday with support of 25 other political parties.

In another development, Madagascan Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcel Ranjeva, who is in Johannesburg, South Africa for the South African Development Community Summit, met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.

The UN chief decided to send Haile Menkerios to Madagascar when Ranjeva informed him of the statement made on Wednesday evening by Chairman of the Christian Council of Churches Odon Razanakolona that the council had given up its mediation efforts.

Ranjeva sought mediation of the United Nations in the current political crisis in Madagascar, said a press release issued by the foreign ministry on Thursday.

However, in a statement issued here following Menkerio's meetings with Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, the Churches council said its leaders would continue their mediation to find a peaceful way out of the current political stalemate.

The statement mentioned no word of any result of the 45-minute meeting between the UN special representative and Ravalomanana.

On a question by media reporters about the meeting, Rasamoelina John Ranarivelo, one of the Christian church council leaders, only said that the meeting was aimed at strengthening the research of solution to the political crisis.

Churches leaders appealed to Rajoelina to resume talks with Ravalomanana rather than resuming anti-government demonstration as he had announced earlier.

According to a private radio, Antsiva, Rajoelina, with support of other 29 political parties, has called on all government workers in the capital city to go on a general strike on the coming Saturday.

The opposition called a mass gathering outside a sport stadium around lunch time on Thursday, which was attended by 1,500of his followers, who were dispersed by the armed forces.

Meanwhile, the retired armed force generals appealed their brothers in function to think about the law of the armed forces before opening fire to the people, saying that their duty is to protect the people and their properties.

"We ask our brothers to protect the people and not to open fire to the people," the retired generals said in a statement issued on Thursday.


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