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Malagasy Presidents Set to Begin Talks in Mozambique


Madagascar's transitional President, Andry Rajoelina and his rival, ousted President Marc Ravalomanana and two other former presidents are scheduled to meet Wednesday in Mozambique.

The meeting forms part of fresh efforts by international mediators to jumpstart negotiations to find solutions to an ongoing political crisis.

Earlier, Rajoelina declined mediators' invitation to be part of negotiations with former President Ravalomanana, saying he will not negotiate with the masterminds of recent bomb attacks which left several people dead and scores injured.

He blames Ravalomanana supporters for carrying out the attacks. The Voice of America's Guilo Ramilison said that Malagasies are hopeful Wednesday's talks will end escalating tensions in Madagascar.

"All the political leaders, which means the four (president and three former leaders) of them would be there. All Malagasy people are expecting a lot from these talks in Mozambique," Ramilison said.

He said previous attempts at resolving the crisis failed.

"They have been trying to find solutions. From abroad they came here and had lots of meetings, but nothing happened since then. So we are expecting a lot from this meeting in Maputo," he said.

Ramilison said there is reason to believe that the transitional president was bluffing to gain advantage over his opponents during the talks.

"I think people have come to be more clever and like everybody say, in negotiations sometimes you say no just because you want to get more. But I think everybody understands that they should come to a round table and talk about the situation, which is getting worse and worse," Ramilison said.

Before leaving for Mozambique, Rajoelina reportedly said he was attending the talks to try to end the violence and restore peace to Madagascar.

Ramilison said Rajoelina's change of mind could be attributed to the sudden end of recent bomb attacks.

"I think the bombers stopped before the talks, so everybody is on the right track now," Ramilison said.

He described as bizarre the current escalating political stalemate.

"You see, the crisis in Madagascar is a very strange one because we started with some kind of rebellion in February and we ended up with the president (Ravalomanana) resigning. But since then nothing has really moved on the political side," he said.

The political crisis in Madagascar deepened after former President Ravalomanana was allegedly forced to resign after months of opposition protests.

Former opposition leader Rajoelina ascended to power after Ravalomanana's resignation, a move widely condemned by the international community as a coup d'état.

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