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National conference opens to seek solution to crisis in Madagascar
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09:24, April 03, 2009

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A two-day national conference aimed at seeking solution to the current political crisis in Madagascar opened here on Thursday with participation of some 1,000 representatives from 22 regions of the island country and those from major political parties and other sectors.

Opening the conference at the international conference here, President Andry Rajoelina called the international community to understand the demand of the people, saying that Madagascar needs a profound change and reform.

"We show in the eyes of the world that Madagascar has decided to move forward, rather than returning to a constitution which has been outdated and outmoded," Rajoelina said.

"Everyone should know that Madagascans in 2009 have the same desire for freedom and equality like that of the French people in 1789 or the American people in 1776," Rajoelina told the meeting, also attended by the African Union special envoy Ablasse Ouedraogo and four Antananarivo-based Ambassadors from Libya, Morocco, Senegal and Egypt.

"Everyone should understand that, for people who want to live free, for a people who want to seize his last chance for democracy, nothing is impossible and nothing can stop it," Rajoelina claimed.

Rajoelina, 34, promised to build a new constitutional order, in which all citizens have equal opportunities to access to elected office, the freedoms of all people were respected, and good governance would remain more than a slogan.

The conference would discuss, among others, the timing of the transition, during which a new constitution will be drafted, a new electoral code will come into being, status of the opposition will be decided and the law on political parties will be promulgated.

Organizers decided to set up three committees to discuss and prepare the constitution, the electoral code and the way to reach national reconciliation during the transitional period.

The two-day conference is set to make suggestions on the date of next national conference, the duration of the transitional period and the days for prepare the new constitutional and legislative texts.

The participants will also decide the date for a national referendum to adopt the new constitution.

Rajoelina declared that participants of the conference would be the craftsmen of the renewal of Madagascan political life.

Rajoelina, who was sworn in as President of the Indian Ocean island country on March 21, told the first-day meeting that he was confident that the participants would be in line with the ambitions of Madagascan transitional government.

Describing the conference as "a significant milestone in the political history of Madagascar", Rajoelina said that the participants would raise the first milestone in a process of democratization and profound political change as well as the exercise of power in Madagascar.

The conference was the only one and the first step to set in motion of the mission that the transitional government has intended to accomplish, Rajoelina said.

Rajemison Rakotomaharo, former president of the Senate, upper house of the Madagascan parliament, attended the meeting as representative of the former ruling party, I Love Madagascar.

Yvan Randriasandratriniony, the president of the party, said early this week that the party would not attend the conference if it was not organized by the United Nations.

Betiana Bruno, advisor of former president Albert Zafy and one of 44 members of the High Transitional Authority appointed by Rajoelina on Tuesday, was also seen at the meeting, though Zafy said on Wednesday that he did not agree with the transitional government led by Rajoelina because the young president refused to follow his advice.

The former president told a press conference that he would establish an autonomous province rather than following the transitional government.


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