Madagascar's Rajoelina says to meet deposed president as last step to end crisis

16:09, April 15, 2010      

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The president of the Highest Transitional Authority (HAT) in Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, said on Wednesday evening his next meeting with the deposed president, Marc Ravalomanana, in South Africa will be the ultimate stage to end the crisis in the Indian Ocean island state.

A roadmap to end the crisis was proposed by France, South Africa and the Southern African Development Community. Rajoelina told state television that the roadmap was proposed after the realization of failure of international mediation.

"They do not want to admit it in public but even the African Union knows that it took sanctions against us just to defend its credibility. However, the international community is conscious of the fact that it is responsible for the failure of the political accords that we have signed," he said.

According to Rajoelina, the new proposal envisions elections in the shortest possible time.

"There's neither Maputo nor Addis Ababa agreement, now the main preoccupation is the forming of a government of national unity," Rajoelina said.

The rival camps including supporters of Ravalomanana reached Maputo and Addis Ababa agreements last year months after Rajoelina replaced Ravalomanana with the backing of the military. But the parties concerned failed to carry them out afterwards with Ravalomanana challenging Rajoelina's role to head the transition leading to an election.

After the proposal of the new roadmap by the French secretary of state in charge of cooperation, Alain Joyandet, Rajoelina sent a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to express his acceptance. Ravalomanana accepted the idea in his letter.

"If it is necessary to sign an agreement to confirm the entry of Ravalomanana's group into this government of national unity, we shall proceed with the signing," Rajoelina declared.

As for the two other groupings respectively led by former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Zafy Albert, the HAT leader promised that they would not be isolated from the government of national unity.

"We need to close the transitional period and move towards the organization of elections. We must learn some lessons from the one- year crisis. I believe that the Madagascan people have the wisdom necessary to move on into the Fourth Republic," he said.

But Rajoelina made it clear that it is not yet time for Ravalomanana to come back to Madagascar. "The timing is not right for him," he said. Ravalomanana went in exile abroad after ousted in March 2009. He is currently in South Africa.

Asked about his candidacy for future elections, he said he will not refuse to run if it is necessary.

"As for me, having power is not a priority," he said, adding the most critical thing for now is to get the country out of the crisis.



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