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Madagascar Power Sharing Talks Resume After Brief Walkout

Madagascar Power Sharing Talks Resume After Brief Walkout

Madagascar Power Sharing Talks Resume After Brief Walkout

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Madagascar's leader has returned for a fourth day of internationally mediated power-sharing talks in Addis Ababa, after storming out and threatening to derail efforts to form a national unity government. Our correspondent has details from the site of the talks at African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

De facto President Andry Rajoelina arrived for Friday's talks three hours late, saying he remains adamant that any power sharing deal must include him as head of a transitional government.

He says he does not want his people to suffer so he agrees, in the supreme interest of the nation to sign a version of the deal reached October 6. That deal, which Mr. Rajoelina says was validated and accepted, calls for him to be president of a transition government.

But the man he ousted as president last March, Mark Ravalomanana, denies any such deal was made. A Ravalomanana aide, who asked not to be identified, challenged Mr. Rajoelina to produce a copy of the agreement.

Three-days of scheduled power sharing talks ended in the early hours of Friday morning when Mr. Rajoelina stormed out of the meeting room. Witnesses say the walkout followed a verbal clash between the 35-year-old Mr. Rajoelina and former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, head of an international mediation team.

As he left, Mr. Rajoelina told reporters, "if they can't accept that I am leader of the country, then they are responsible for their actions'.

When Mr. Rajoelina failed to turn up for resumption of the talks 10 hours later, Mr. Chissano led a delegation that went to Mr. Rajoelina's hotel to fetch him.

Mr. Chissano was quoted Friday as saying the talks could go on to a fifth day Saturday unless an agreement is reached.

Madagascar has been hit by political and economic instability since Mr. Rajoelina, a former disc-jockey, unseated the multi-millionaire businessman Mr. Ravalomanana in March. But the Rajoelina-led government has failed to win international recognition.

The bitter rivals, along with two other former Madagascar presidents, agreed in August to form a national unity government that would lead to fresh elections next year. But they are sharply divided over to who should hold what post.

The latest round of talks began Tuesday with a warning from African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping. He told the four factional leaders they would be judged harshly if they fail to find a compromise.