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AU to Open Peace Talks on Madagascar Crisis

The Africa Union effort to find a resolution to the crisis in Madagascar is set to begin Wednesday after a day's delay to enable all political parties to take part. But representatives of former President Marc Ravalomanana are refusing to join the talks. They claim the former president, who resigned under pressure, is still the constitutionally recognized leader.

Some Malagasies believe the talks could help end the political crisis which they say would make the country ungovernable.

Malagasy journalist Mialy Randriamampianina told VOA that finding a solution is challenging since some parties refuse to be part of today's AU organized discussions.

"Representatives of Andry Rajoelina would of course be there, and there should be representatives from Marc Ravalomanana, but you know, they refused to be present at the meeting anymore," she said.

Randriamampianina said the former president seems not to be enthused about the negotiations.

"They received some orders from Marc Ravalomanana not to participate in these negotiations anymore," Randriamampianina said.

She said many Malagasy citizens want to be a part of today's discussions.

"Many people and many entities want to participate in the debate because according to them, they would like to contribute in the decision-making," she said.

Randriamampianina said some people are fed up with the political impasse.

"Malagasy people are quite bored of the political situation. We were trying to find a solution for many months now. We don't know what is going to happen," she said.

Randriamampianina said the refusal of some of the political parties to resolve the political impasse is going to have an adverse effect on a way forward.

"The problem is that as some of the entities are not participating in the debate, then it is not that sure that we are going to find a solution (to the crisis)," she said.

Randriamampianina said the former president is taking his crusade to the media, refusing to become part of a coalition government and insisting that he is still the president of the country.

"He is not ready to share the power, and he is always speaking on some private media, radio stations, even on TV stations and even on YouTube to speak to Malagasy people," Randriamampianina said.

Former President Marc Ravalomanana was forced to resign early this year after almost daily opposition protest that often turned violent leading to scores being killed and several injured.

Ravalomanana claims he resigned under duress after appending his signature at gunpoint and handing over power to the military. The move paved the way for then-opposition leader Rajoelina, who was widely backed by the military, to take over power.

The African Union and other international organizations condemned the takeover as a coup d'état, refusing to recognize the new president and cutting off some aid.

Mr. Rajoelina accused former President Ravalomanana of running a dictatorship after claiming the former president was preventing opposition protesters from voicing dissent.

Meanwhile, three former Malagasy presidents plus the current leader Rajoelina say they intend to participate in a presidential election scheduled to be held within the next 14 months.

Representatives of the four presidents, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka, Albert Zafy and Rajoelina, reportedly announced last week that they would be national candidates in next year's contest.

Last weekend, a representative of former President Ratsiraka walked out of talks organized to form a consensus government. This has led some political observers to note that the Africa Union will have a formidable task this week to resolve the debilitating crisis.

International mediators, including special envoys from the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the international organization of French-speaking countries, are looking to Malagasy stakeholders to sign a charter of transition during the third phase of current negotiations.

Mediators have reportedly suggested an eight-institution body for the transitional period. This would consist of a high transitional authority, a government of national unity, a transitional congress, a national council of reconciliation and a committee of truth and reconciliation, an economic and social council, a high court of transition, a reflection committee on defense and national security, and an independent electoral commission.