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Madagascar Presidential Candidates Consider New Vote


Madagascar's two main presidential candidates reached an accord Thursday to hold a new vote if the recount of last December's poll fails to produce a definite winner.

Madagascar's two rival leaders, internationally-recognized President, Didier Ratsiraka, and self-proclaimed head of state, Marc Ravalomanana have agreed to await the outcome of the court-ordered recount in an agreement that was reached after two days of intensive mediation.

The two men signed a deal, which would set up a provisional government of national reconciliation, and allow them to appoint a mutually agreed upon prime minister. The two embraced after signing the accord at their first face-to-face talks since February.

The recount was ordered Wednesday by the Supreme Court, which annulled the results of the original poll. The pact also calls for the creation of an independent electoral commission.

According to the agreement, if neither candidate wins a majority, Madagascar will hold a revote within six months, overseen by representatives of the Organization of African Unity, the United Nations and the European Union.

The accord comes after vigorous diplomatic efforts by OAU secretary general, Amara Essy, and by the presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin and Mozambique.

Madagascar has been in turmoil since Marc Ravolamana, a popular millionaire and mayor of Antananarivo, declared himself president on February 22nd. He denounced vote-rigging supporters of President Ratsiraka during the first round of presidential elections in December.

In the ensuing dispute, each man presided over rival governments in separate cities. Civilians and soldiers have taken sides, and 32 people have lost their lives to violence, provoking fears of civil war.

Road-blocks and embargoes have brought the impoverished island's economy to a standstill.

Under the new deal, both men have agreed to lift blockades and allow free movement of goods and people around their southern African nation. The accord also commits both parties to end the violence.

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