afrol News, 17 June - Malagasy President Marc Ravalomanana is returning to the rules defined by the international community after substantial military victories last week. He now accepts the Dakar peace plan and consequently has dissolved his government. Prime Minister Jacques Sylla was immediately reappointed and instructed to form a government of national reconciliation.
Yesterday's move by President Ravalomanana was welcomed by the Antananarivo press as a wise decision towards ending the political crisis of the island and achieving international recognition of his December election victory. The President's decree dissolving the government was legitimised "due to the requirements dictated by national reconciliation."
The Malagasy President has also sent a letter to Senegalese President and chief mediator Abdoulaye Wade, saying he would accept the latter's peace plan, presented at last week's Dakar negotiations. Ravalomanana accepted the establishment of a new government of national reconciliation, the organisation of early parliamentary elections under international monitoring and giving amnesty to ex-President Didier Ratsiraka and his followers.
In the letter, Ravalomanana "wholeheartedly" subscribed to Wade's "excellent proposal" to find a solution to the Malagasy crisis. In return, he asked Wade to assist his government in gaining access to Madagascar's frozen assets abroad so that reconstruction could get started. Although not directly expressed in the letter, this also is a call for the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to recognise Ravalomanana's government.
The OAU's recognition is seen as a key element in Ravalomanana's diplomatic struggle. Government-close 'Madagascar Tribune' thus interprets the "curious decree" of dissolving Sylla's government after just one month as a recognition plea to "the all-powerful OAU", giving in to Wade's and the OAU's peace proposals. "If the veto of this organisation is not lifted, there will be no international recognition of Ravalomanana's authority," the newspaper assesses.
After military victories and ex-President Ratsiraka's surprise departure for France before the weekend - widely interpreted as his going into exile - Ravalomanana is rapidly preparing for taking over control of a unified Madagascar. Preparations are made for an ultimate offensive against Tamatave (Toamasina) - the stronghold and headquarters of Ratsiraka's government.
There is however hope a military conquest will not be necessary as pro-Ratsiraka troops and officials are reported to believe the battle is already lost. With Friday's capture of two major ports by pro-Ravalomanana troops, Ratsiraka's followers lost their upper hand in the power struggle as the blockade of Antananarivo finally was lifted.
The new reconciliation government to be named was also to contribute to this. Sylla was given the orders to also include moderate members of Ratsiraka's Arema party, possibly even ministers from the pro-Ratsiraka government in Tamatave. The 'Madagascar Tribune' reports that negotiations with "the moderate wing of Arema" had already been initiated.
Meanwhile, the political violence in Madagascar was going on. In the north-western port city Majunga (Mahajanga), local residents are reported to have attacked the Indian community during the weekend. Majunga was captured by pro-Ravalomanana troops on Friday without resistance. Angry locals "celebrated" the victory by attacking, looting and burning shops owned by Indians, who are accused if having financed pro-Ratsiraka militias terrorising the inhabitants.
Sources: Based on Malagasy govt, Tiako i Madagasikara, press reports and afrol archives