Madagascar: Ravalomanana's Fate Bedevils Talks

Photo: L'Express
From left, the current de facto leader Andry Rajoelina, mediator Joaquim Chissano and deposed president Marc Ravolamanana at previous talks.

The return to Madagascar of its deposed and exiled president, Marc Ravalomanana, is creating profound division among the political formations which met in Botswana this week to find a way out of the country's political crisis.

The parties joined talks in Gaborone to discuss a proposed "road map" drawn up under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the regional grouping of leaders which has been trying to broker a solution after Madagascar's current ruler, Andry Rajoelina, unconstitutionally seized power more than two years ago.

Ndzinga Amougou reports in the Cameroon Tribune that although the meeting was termed by SADC mediators as a "final chance" to get the country out of its political impasse, it still could not bring all the parties to agree on the contentious issue of whether Ravalomanana should be free to return from exile in South Africa and to contest the presidency in planned elections.

The road map proposes that Rajeolina stay in power until elections are held and does not guarantee Ravalomanana freedom from prosecution. The former president was charged in absentia, and sentenced to four years' imprisonment, for the action of his guards in killing a group of protesters in the unrest which led to his ouster.

While Ravalomanana believes that the sanctions imposed on Madagascar by SADC and the African Union shows he has the support of these bodies, Rajoelina is insisting that the road map be implemented in its current form without any modifications, and that Ravalomanana has to choose between remaining in exile or serving his prison sentence in Madagascar.

Meanwhile L'Express de Madagascar reports that there are indications that another ex-president, Didier Ratsiraka, currently in exile in France, could be allowed to return - although he, with another former president, Albert Zafy, joined Ravalomanana in refusing to sign up to the road map.

After the failure to arrive at a consensus in Gaborone, an extraordinary summit was scheduled for June 11 in South Africa.

Adapted and translated from the original French by Michael Tantoh.

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