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AU calls for measures to guarantee Madagascan president's safety
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08:33, March 18, 2009

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The African Union (AU) on Tuesday evening urged the Malagasy parties to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Marc Ravalomanana, who resigned from presidency under the pressure from the opposition and the armed forces.

The pan-African body requested that all necessary measures "betaken to ensure the safety of the president and his family, his associates, respect for individual and collective freedom and prevent any act of violence or intimidation and protect property," said a communique issued after an emergency meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council.

In the communique, the AU demanded that the Malagasy parties "comply scrupulously with the provisions of the constitution of Madagascar on interim arrangements in the event of resignation."

It urged the Malagasy parties "to uphold the spirit of dialogue and compromise in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful and consensual solution to the crisis, with the assistance of representatives of the international community in Antananarivo, in particular, the special envoys of the AU, UN and La Francophonie."

In a presidential degree issued on Tuesday, Ravalomanana agreed to transfer his power to the oldest in the highest military rank, who would lead a military executive board.

The military would be in charge of the functions of the president and prime minister under the constitution, according to the degree.

The mission of the executive military board is to arrange a national discussion and the development of possible amendments to the constitution, to prepare for the revision of the electoral code, the law on political parties and for organizing elections within 24 months.

The board is authorized to take other measures it considers necessary to restore security and peace, and to promote genuine national reconciliation for economic and social development of the island country.

However, the degree was rejected by the opposition and the armed forces, which have already chosen to support the opposition led sacked Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina.

The rebel armed forces detained four military generals and one Christian church leader following a meeting between the generals, Rajoelina and the Christian Church leaders on Tuesday afternoon, in which the opposition was informed of the president's decision.

Shortly after, Ravalomanana addressed the nation, saying that his decision to step down was difficult to make, but he made it after careful and deep reflection for the supreme interest of the nation and for a peaceful solution to the differences among both the army and the citizens.

He reiterated that his respect for the constitution was sacred and the restoration of social peace was important.

Calling for calm, Ravalomanana thanked his people, staff, the international community, partners of Madagascar for everything that has been achieved so far.


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