afrol News, 14 April - Madagascar's armed forces this week gave coup leader Andry Rajoelina an end-April deadline to find a solution to the political deadlock that has sparked international sanctions. The military threat proved successful in pressuring Mr Rajoelina back to dialogue.
On Monday, the Malagasy army leadership presented self-imposed President Rajoelina with an ultimatum. He was given 48 hours to present a roadmap out of the political crisis that has shaken the Great Island during the last 13 months, or face unspecified consequences.
Mr Rajoelina had earlier engaged in mediation processes organised by the African Union (AU) and the regional body SADC, agreeing on a power-sharing deal with three former elected presidents of the island. But he failed to implement the deal, refused to engage in further dialogue and was hit by political and economic sanctions from the US, AU and other trade partners.
But following the army threat, Mr Rajoelina was quick to react. Already on the same day, the Malagasy ruler met with army leaders and agreed that he would present a roadmap out of the current political deadlock harming the political stability and economy of Madagascar. The army and Mr Rajoelina agreed on a 30 April deadline to present his plan.
Since Monday, two questions have engaged people in Madagascar. What did the army threaten with? And what will Mr Rajoelina do to meet the threats?
On the army's threat, no sources have wanted to leak what the army leadership would do if Mr Rajoelina fails to meet his deadline. Both army spokesmen and the island's transitional government have declined to elaborate on the threat, rather calling for calm among the population.
But the other question is being answered by deeds. President Rajoelina has made a sudden shift in his policies and entered dialogue on many frontlines.
The Malagasy press reports that there have already been preparatory meeting between Mr Rajoelina's presidential office director Zaza Ramandimbiarison and the spokesman of his major opponent, toppled President Marc Ravalomanana. Dialogue between these two key parties had been stalled and their resumption indicates President Rajoelina has been forced to change his policies.
ar Tribune', this renewed dialogue was one among several "indications that a proposed roadmap is being actively discussed at a high level," strongly contrasting the situation after AU sanctions were imposed in late March.
As the AU and SADC, after imposing sanctions, now are holding a low profile regarding Madagascar, local reports indicate the Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) is now taking an active mediation role. An ICG mediator is reported to be in Antananarivo, holding meetings with Mr Rajoelina's administration.
The ICG in a March analysis proposed to give up the AU's idea of a power-sharing deal, which was not being implemented by President Rajoelina and which could have led to further political instability due to the strong personal conflicts between the Malagasy strongmen. Rather, mediation should "aim for consensual writing of a constitution and early, internationally supervised elections," the ICG concluded.
The invitation of an ICG representative to Antananarivo could indicate that Mr Rajoelina may opt for this early election possibility in his roadmap to the Malagasy crisis.
The threat of military intervention has also led to movements on the anti-Rajoelina side in the conflict. Ex-President Ravalomanana has temporarily stopped his media campaign against the current ruler, cancelling a Tuesday press conference, and political activists supporting him in Madagascar have cancelled all protest action. Mr Ravalomanana's party seeks calm to engage in renewed dialogue and to show support for the army's intervention.
Meanwhile, President Rajoelina has announced he will make a speech and "engage in debate with the press" this evening, outlining his thoughts about how Madagascar's political crisis can be solved.
Internationally, for once, there have been no official reactions to the Malagasy army's threats. The AU, which normally is firm in its condemnation of military interference, has made no statement on the matter.
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