Cape Town — Southern African leaders want to bar Madagascar's deposed president, Marc Ravalomanana, from standing in new elections - despite condemning as unconstitutional his ousting in 2009.
In an extraordinary summit in Tanzania last week, heads of state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reiterated a previous decision that Ravalomanana, who now lives in exile, should be allowed to return to Madagascar.
But, they added, neither he nor the man who seized power from him, Andry Rajoelina, should be permitted to stand in elections scheduled for May next year. They presented this "as a way forward towards resolving this crisis".
They also proposed that the Rajoelina administration should pass an amnesty law to allow Ravalomanana to return. Two years ago, the former president was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour for his part in the deaths of about 30 protesters during the protests leading up to his removal.
Meeting in Dar es Salaam on December 8 and 9, the SADC leaders discussed the long-running impasse in Madagascar as well as the crisis in the eastern Congo and the run-up to new elections in Zimbabwe. The section of the communique dealing with Madagascar read:
8.1 Summit commended:
(i) His Excellency Joachim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and the SADC Mediator on the political conflict in Madagascar for his efforts towards restoring the constitutional normalcy in the country;
(ii) His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and the Outgoing Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for his contribution in resolving the crisis in the country;
(iii) His Excellency James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles for his contribution in assisting the Malagasy towards finding a lasting solution to the political situation in their country.
8.2 Summit endorsed the report of the SADC Mediator and:
(i) urged the Malagasy political stakeholders to fully implement the Madagascar Roadmap in the letter and spirit;
(ii) urged that the dates of 8 May 2013 for Presidential Elections and 25 July 2013 for Parliamentary Elections be respected by all parties concerned;
(iii) Summit took note of, and undertook to give serious consideration to the request to SADC to contribute 10 million U$ to the Malagasy elections of 2013. In this regard, the Summit urged SADC Member States to make timely voluntary contributions. Summit also directed the Secretariat to mobilise financial and logistical support from the international community.
8.3 Summit reiterated its decision that former President Mr. Marc Ravalomanana should return to Madagascar unconditionally.
8.4 Summit reemphasized that the two candidates, Mr Marc Ravalomanana and Mr. Andry Rajoelina, should be persuaded not to stand in the forthcoming general elections as a way forward towards resolving this crisis.
8.5 Summit reiterated its position that the Amnesty Law be implemented in order to create conducive conditions for the return of the political exiles including Mr. Ravalomanana.
8.6 Summit urged the political stakeholders to develop legislation before the May 2013 elections that would guarantee the privileges of the former Heads of State.
8.7 Summit urged the Transitional Government to repeal the legislations intended to exclude its citizens from participating in the coming elections.