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Madagascan armed forces to reject forced agreement on crisis
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20:48, August 05, 2009

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Madagascan defense organs under the transitional government have warned that the armed forces, the gendarmerie and police would reject any forced agreement made in Maputo, Mozambique, by Madagascan politicians.

Defense Minister Noel Rakotonandrasana, Internal Security Minister Organes Rakotomihantarizaka and Secretary of State of the national gendarmerie Claude Ravelomanana, said in a communiqué published here on Wednesday that they were not against the scheduled meeting between the current and former presidents in Maputo on Wednesday, if it were aimed at resolving the prolonged political crisis.

However, they made it clear that any forced decision, which would not for the best interests of the island country, could not be accepted and implemented in Madagascar.

Sponsored by special envoys of the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Organization of French-Speaking Countries (IOF), President of the Madagascan High Transitional Authority, Andry Rajoelina and former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy are scheduled to hold talks in Maputo on possible solution to the seven-month-long political crisis in the Indian Ocean island country.

It is widely expected that, under the intense international pressure, the four stakeholders in the crisis are likely to sign an agreement on transition as well as on possible solution to the political crisis and social disturbance which began last December.

The three officials under the transitional authority led by Rajoelina declared that the four presidents could have a fairly wide margin of maneuver in negotiations before making any decision in complete freedom but could not sign any charter or agreement by force.

They also made it clear in the communiqué signed on Tuesday that the armed forces, the gendarmerie and police rejected any motion for the return of power of former president Ravalomanana, saying that "it will inevitably lead to serious unrest in the country".

They expressed their hope that Maputo meeting would take fully account of the popular aspirations in Madagascar.

Rakotonandrasana, appointed by Rajoelina as defense minister on April 17, was one of the army generals who led the mutiny against Ravalomanana at one of the major army barracks in the capital city on March 8, which forced Ravalomanana to resign nine days later.

The armed force rebellion led by Rakotonandrasana was a turning point for Rajoelina, the former Antananarivo who began calling mass demonstrations against Ravalomanana last December and proclaimed to be president of the country early last February.

International mediators, who rushed here soon after the bloody conflicts broke out early last February, failed to convince the Madagascan stakeholders to negotiate a peaceful settlement on the crisis, one of the most serious since Madagascar's independence from the France in 1960.

However, in their latest efforts last week, special envoys of the SADC, Joachim Chissano, of the AU, Ablassé Ouédraougo, of the UN, Tiébilé Dramé, and of the IOF, Edem Kodjo, managed to convince the four presidents to go to Maputo to negotiate a way out of the crisis.

The direct meeting is the first between the four Madagascan stakeholders ever since the kick-off of the crisis last December.

Informed sources here said that the four would hold one-by-one consultations first with the international mediators Wednesday morning, followed by direct meeting between themselves in the afternoon in the Joachim Chissano International Conference Center in Maputo.

This was also the first time the Madagascan armed forces made their own reaction on the mediation efforts by the international community, which has been calling for a negotiated peaceful solution to the crisis between the Madagascan stakeholders.

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

His predecessor, Didier Ratsiraka, went to France soon after Ravalomanana took him over in 2002, and has been living in Paris for the last seven years.

Rajoelina, 35, was sworn in as president of the country as well as leader of the High Transitional Authority on March 21, but his presidency has bee rejected by the international community, which took political and economic sanctions against his authority.

Source: Xinhua

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