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Madagascan president agrees to hold earlier presidential election
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10:49, July 12, 2009

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Madagascan president Andry Rajoelina has announced that he is ready to hold a national election before the end of the year so as to shorten the transitional period.

"The high transitional authority agreed to shorten the transitional period and to hold a national election before the end of 2009 due to difficulties to reach a compromise between Madagascan stakeholders," Rajoelina said in a debate organized by the official Madagascan television channel on Friday.

The announcement was made at a time when the special envoy of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Joachim Chissano, is visiting the island country to seek a peaceful solution to the current political crisis in the country which began last December.

Chissano, the former Mozambican president, arrived here on Thursday for a four-day visit. He discussed the latest political development in the Indian Ocean island country with Rajoelina in a close-door meeting on Friday.

Chissano also met representatives of former president Marc Ravalomanana on Saturday but both sides refused to disclose what they had talked during the meeting.

The SADC envoy was appointed last month at the extraordinary SADC summit in South Africa to lead a mediation team to find a peaceful solution to the six-month-long political crisis in Madagascar.

Rajoelina disclosed in the debate, broadcast live on Friday night, that he had informed European Union (EU) officials during the EU meeting in Brussels earlier this week that he is ready to shorten the transitional period to December this year rather than 20 months till December 2010 as he announced two month earlier.

Early in April, the High Transitional Authority led by Rajoelina organized a national conference, which decided to hold a national referendum on a new constitution in September this year and presidential election in December 2010.

Rajoelina confirmed that the EU officials urged him to hold a national election earlier and he asked the EU to give his transitional government a helping hand financially for the organization of the election.

He argued that what he has been done in Brussels is for the interest of all Madagascans but not for his own interest or the interest of his transitional authority.

Rajoelina insisted on holding a national referendum on a new constitution in September following a national conference, scheduled to be held soon.

The young president said that his transitional authority would like to join political dialogues with other stakeholders as the international mediators asked him to do so, but he would not be forced to accept what other parties have asked.

Rajoelina replaced former president Marc Ravalomanana as president of the country on March 21, four days after his predecessor handed over his presidency to a top military committee, which gave the power to Rajoelina on the same day.

Soon after the start of the political crisis in Madagascar earlier this year, international mediators including special envoys from the United Nations, the African Union, the SADC and the International Organization of French-speaking Countries, rushed here, trying to mediate a peaceful solution.

However, they have failed to convince Madagascan politicians, including Rajoelina, formers presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, to make any compromises to reach a consensus.

Ravalomanana, who ruled the island country for seven year since 2002, fled out of Madagascar on March 25 and has been living in exile in Swaziland and South Africa ever since.

Ratsiraka was president of the island country for 21 years, from 1975 to 1991 and again from 1996 to 2001, while Zafy led the country from 1993 to 1996.


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