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Madagascar Opposition Leader Calls for More Protests after Breakdown of Peace Talks


Deposed Antananarivo Mayor Andry Ranjoelina has called on his supporters to begin another round of street protest today (Thursday) after a break down in peace negotiations. This comes after President Marc Ravalomanana failed to attend what would have been the fourth round of peace talks to resolve Madagascar's political crisis. Malagasies are expressing disappointment and blaming President Ravalomanana after his refusal to attend the meeting which led the opposition leader to pull out of the talks. The mediator of the talks, Archbishop Odon Razanakolona also stepped down calling on the United Nations Secretary General to take up the role and help resolve the crisis. Mialy Randriamampianina is a Malagasy journalist. She tells reporter Peter Clottey many Malagasies feel let down by what they described as the president's nonchalant attitude.

"Today the opposition protests will restart after Andry Rajoelina asked the people and asked his partisans to present at the protests for today. We don't know if the meeting between the two leaders to resolve the crisis is going to take place today because yesterday (Wednesday), Marc Ravalomanana was not present, and that is why Andry Rajoelina will hold the protests again today. So, we don't know if the meeting about the mediation is going to exist again," Randriamampianina pointed out.

She said Malagasies are faulting the president for the breakdown of the peace negotiations.

"Both of them (President Ravalomanana and opposition leader Rajoelina) agreed to stop protests and stopping any form of broadcasting on both radio and even television in order to promote the peace mediation to find a solution to the political crisis. But Marc Ravalomanana didn't really follow the rule of the talks because he refused to be present at the meeting yesterday (Wednesday) and he didn't tell the opposition that he will not be present," She said.

Randriamampianina said the opposition was upset after the president abruptly refused to attend the peace talks.

"The president visited other regions of the country so the opposition delegation including the leader Andry Rajoelina waited for the president for a long time and he failed to come. Some of the president's aides said he would be available on Friday and that really made the opposition party delegation very angry about the situation. And that is why they decided to hold another round of protests today," Randriamampianina pointed out.

She said some Malagasies are demanding an explanation from the president for his failure to attend the meeting aimed at resolving the political crisis.

"He didn't give any reason, but we heard reports that he was in two regions of Madagascar and we are yet to receive any information about why he failed to show up for the meeting. So, that is why the leaders of the opposition took the decision to begin another round of protests today," she said.

Randriamampianina said Malagasies are disappointed in the breakdown of the peace negotiations.

"Everybody was really disappointed because everybody was hoping for a solution to the political crisis. And they were really disappointed that there is a breakdown and that made people feel really let down," Randriamampianina noted.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader expressed displeasure at what he described as the mediator's biased towards his opponent. He said President Ravalomanana's absence from the meeting is tantamount to the lack of respect for the Malagasy people.

Some Malagasies said the peace talks had brought a degree of normality to the capital, Antananarivo, fearing that the breakdown will possibly ignite violent protest, which would plunge the country into chaos.

Earlier on Wednesday, Archbishop Odon Razanakolona who acted as chief mediator at three rounds of talks stepped down and called on the United Nations to come up with a way out of the impasse. But other church leaders overseeing the negotiations said they would continue the mediation efforts.

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