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Mediators Move to Revive Talks to Resolve Madagascar Political Crisis


In Madagascar, international mediators have begun fresh efforts to jump-start talks between all parties to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

Special envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the International Organization of French-speaking countries (IOF) reportedly met President Andry Rajoelina Wednesday and tried to convince him to attend the talks.

But Rajoelina refused, saying he will not negotiate with the masterminds of recent bomb attacks which left several people dead and scores injured.

He blames supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana for carrying out the attacks.

"Here now within Rajoelina's (camp), there are two tendencies. One is the hard line, and the other is the soft line. There are those who think that we don't have to discuss with the bombers in the capital. Then there are those who think we have to discuss because we have to move forward," said Guilo Ramilison, VOA Madagascar correspondent.

He said President Rajoelina has refused to negotiate with those he considers terrorists.

"He doesn't want to talk to Ravalomanana's camp if they don't stop bombing. That is for sure. He went to the south. He went to the west last weekend. And he made it clear, 'I am the head the transitional period and I don't want to talk to anybody who is putting trouble in my country'," he restated.

Ramilison said Malagasies are going on with their lives not being aware of the current deadlock.

"The word peace talks doesn't mean anything to us here in Madagascar. The Malagasy people don't understand what the international (community) understands about what is going on here because it is not a fact that we are in a crisis," Ramilison said.

He said the impasse is between the political parties.

"From the outside world it is like a fixed thing that since these politicians are not understanding each other, then understandably, Madagascar is in trouble. No it is not a fact in here," he said.

Embattled President Rajoelina plans to hold a national referendum in September to pass a new constitution before the next presidential election, which is scheduled in October 2011.

Ramilison said there are no indications that that would thwart the planned referendum.

"I think they are heading to that side because now the president of the transitional period… he (Rajoelina) wants everybody to understand that he wants to run for the presidency," Ramilison said.

He said Mr. Rajoelina is hampered by his age by a constitutional provision which bars those less than 40 years old to run for the presidency.

"The thing is that for the moment you can do it only if you are more than 40 years old. And he is only 35, and on the way to be 36," he said.

So far, SADC and other international organizations have condemned President Rajoelina's takeover, describing it as a coup d'état.

Meanwhile, representatives of former Presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka, and Albert Zafy are holding negotiations with international observers in the capital, Antananarivo.


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