afrol News, 15 April - Andry Rajoelina, the de facto President of Madagascar, and toppled President Marc Ravalomanana are to meet in South Africa on 24 April, resuming the broken dialogue about a transition unity government, Mr Rajoelina announced after receiving an ultimatum by Madagascar's armed forces.
In a televised speech yesterday evening, Malagasy ruler Rajoelina outlined basic parts of a roadmap towards solving the political crisis that has shaken the island since his coup in February 2009. Mr Rajoelina thus gave into an ultimatum presented on Monday by the armed forces, demanding such a roadmap.
The speech demonstrated that Mr Rajoelina had been working frenetically to reopen dialogue since the Monday ultimatum, establishing contact with mediators and rivals alike.
A meeting in South Africa, probably in Johannesburg, with ex-President Ravalomanana was already confirmed for 24 April. "It is the South African President who invited me," Mr Rajoelina said, adding the South African meeting would be "the last chance" to find a negotiated solution "to end "the Malagasy crisis.
However, Mr Ravalomanana indicated that the upcoming meeting still needed to be confirmed, as the de facto President was insisting only the two main rivals should meet. Earlier negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU) had also included former Presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, both with a considerable support in Madagascar.
The AU negotiations had led to a power-sharing deal involving Mr Rajoelina and the three ex-presidents. De facto President Rajoelina however had failed to implement the power-sharing deal, thus sparing AU sanctions against Madagascar.
In his televised speech, Mr Rajoelina said he only wanted to meet with Mr Ravalomanana, insisting mediators had allowed for this. "The international community has realised its error to integrate the two ex-presidents [Rastiraka and Zafy] as full participants," he claimed. It was necessary for "the two main protagonists to meet face to face," Mr Rajoelina explained.
Ex-President Ravalomanana did not agree, according to reports by the Malagasy independent paper 'L'Express'. The toppled leader insisted that the AU-mediated Maputo agreement must form the basis of the South Africa talks, and this included the participation of Mr Ratsiraka and Mr Zafy. The existing roadmap had included power-sharing by the four parties, he insisted.
"Do not even think of any meeting" if the Maputo agreement is not being implemented, Mr Ravalomanana was quoted by 'L'Express' as saying. "Before holding elections, we must first think about national reconciliation," he added, insisting on a four-party meeting.
But President Rajoelina also showed signs of willingness to implement the Maputo agreement in his TV speech. Even without meeting Mr Ratsiraka and Mr Zafy, the de facto leader announced that he would include all parties in a unity government immediately after the South African meeting. The parties of these two ex-presidents would be invited to participate, he promised.
Mr Rajoelina confirmed the provisions from the Maputo agreement for a transitional unity government before national elections would be lived up to. The agreement foresees a 26-member unity cabinet, with 12 ministers from Mr Rajoelina's political movement, 9 ministers representing Mr Ravalomanana's party and 5 ministers representing other parties.
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