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Indian Ocean Delegation to Meet Madagascar Opposition Leader over Political Crisis

A delegation of the Indian Ocean Commission will be meeting deposed Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina today as part of its effort to resolve Madagascar's political impasse. The commission is in Madagascar to assess the current political stalemate between embattled President Marc Ravalomanana and the former Antananarivo mayor. The commission met with Ravalomanana yesterday after ruling party partisans demonstrated in the capital to show their support for the president. Meanwhile, Rajoelina is calling for a fresh protest march today to demand President Ravalomanana's resignation. Malagasy journalist Mialy Randriamampianina tells reporter Peter Clottey there seems to be a lot of confusion among the general population.

"The Indian Ocean Commission delegation with the French Secretary for Cooperation and Francophony, Alain Joyandet, are in Madagascar to assess the situation in this country. So today, the delegation would hold a meeting with Andry Rajoelina after they held a meeting with President Marc Ravalomanana yesterday," Randriamampianina pointed out.

She said the delegation would assess the situation in order to find a solution to the political impasse between the president and the deposed mayor.

"They are trying to find a solution to really resolve the ongoing political crisis here in Madagascar. So that is why they are making this assessment," she said.

Randriamampianina said the Africa Union special envoy is also in the country as part of a concerted effort by African leaders to resolve the crisis.

"The African Union Commission has sent an emissary that is currently in the country. And he is here to mediate between President Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina. But we have not been told when the meeting and discussion is going to take place, although we know it would be happening soon," Randriamampianina pointed out.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered Wednesday for a pro-government rally in Antananarivo, in a massive show of support for President Ravalomanana, the first such effort to counter opposition protests and reaffirm his grip on power.

Some political analysts believe Rajoelina enjoys considerable support because of the widespread poverty on the island, which they claim has fuelled his strength. But some of those who protested for the president Wednesday were reportedly there to express their concern that sustained unrest would simply further deplete their income.

Both President Ravalomanana and opposition leader Rajoelina have accepted in principle to hold negotiations, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon acting as the facilitator for the talks. But despite the agreement the opposition leader has vowed to continue with his call for protest marches until the president resigns from office.