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New talks to be tough for Madagascan top politicians in Paris
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09:53, April 16, 2009

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A new round of talks has been planned in Paris for top politicians of the Indian Ocean island country following the collapse on Tuesday of a round-table negotiation between four successive Madagascan presidents at the Senegal embassy here.

But there is strong doubt here whether there will be any results from the new talks and even the possibility of the meeting between the current president Andry Rajoelina and former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Albert Zafy, Didier Ratsiraka.

Albert Zafy, who ruled the country from 1993 to 1996 and had planned to fly to Paris on Wednesday night, has cancelled his journey, saying that it is not necessary for him to go to France for the meeting due to the rejection by Rajoelina.

Ravalomanana, who fled out of the island on March 25, four days after Rajoelina, former Antananarivo Mayor, officially replaced him as president of the country, has been already in Paris.

Ratsiraka has been living in exile in Paris since July 2002 when Ravalomanana took over the presidency of the country after a 6-month stalemate between the two politicians that followed a presidential election in December 2001.

However, Rajoelina's entourage told media here on Tuesday evening that Rajoelina, 34, who is also president of the High Transitional Authority officially established on March 31, has no plan to fly to Paris for the meeting but he will send his representatives.

Arranged by United Nations special envoy Tiebilé Dramé and African Union mediator Ablassé Ouedraogo, representatives of the big four began roundtable negotiations at the Senegal Embassy hereon Thursday.

The talks collapsed on Tuesday after two major parties, I Love Madagascar Party led by Ravalomanana and the Association for the Rebirth of Madagascar founded by Ratsiraka in 1975, decided to withdraw from the meeting.

Representative of I Love Madagascar party claimed that the UN special envoy wants to impose "a scheme without Ravalomanana", which they could not accept.

The private Antsiva radio reported on Tuesday that Ratsiraka has urged Rajoelina to order a general amnesty for all political prisoners and political refugees abroad rather than the presidential pardon he issued at his swearing-in ceremony on March21.

The radio said on Wednesday that a delegation from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is scheduled to arrive in the Indian Ocean island country on Wednesday to inspect the latest situation in the country amid Andry Rajoelina announcement early this month that the island would withdraw from the regional community.

After months of political confrontation, Ravalomanana on March 17 handed over the national power to the military top brass, who transferred it to Rajoelina hours later.

Rajoelina proclaimed himself as president of the country on February 7 and is eager to keep his position as leader of the transitional authority before next presidential election in 24 months.

Under pressure of the international community, Rajoelina agreed at the end of a two-day national conference to shorten the transitional period to 19 months, which is still too long compared with the demand of the international community, including the AU and SADC.

Zafy has asked for a national referendum to decide the future leader of the island country though he does not reject the leadership by Rajoelina.

Ravalomanana's supporters have urged return of the business tycoon to lead the anti-Rajoelina force and even restore the functioning of the parliament, dissolved by Rajoelina soon after he was sworn in as president of the country.

Ravalomanana reiterated that, in response to his supporters' call, he would turn back to the country as soon as possible, and, on Tuesday, he promised to be back on the coming Saturday.

Media reports said that Ratsiraka, who ruled the fourth largest island in the world from 1975 to 1991 and again from 1997 to 2001, is also eager to be back after 7 years in exile in France soon after Rajoelina ordered an amnesty.

Analysts here said that the major cause for the disagreement among the anti-Ravalomanana camps is that no single party is strong enough to lead the transitional authority and the island country in general.

This is Madagascar which has no powerful and convincible leadership which is following by majority of the islanders and no strong national party which is capable to lead the country with a population of some 20 million, a political analyst here said.

However, the impasse must be broken either in 6 months, as it is demanded by AU and SADC, or in 19 months, as it is agreed by Rajoelina.

Many agree that AU and SADC were right when they decided to arrange a meeting between the big four to negotiate a solution to the current political crisis that has already badly affected the economic development of the poor island country as well as normal lives of the people.


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