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Madagascar Political Parties Call for Adoption of Regional Mediation Plan

Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina speaks to the press (file photo)

Madagascar political parties supporting de-facto President Andry Rajoelina are calling for quick adoption of a regional mediation proposal making him head of another transitional government. Three major opposition groups reject the proposal and say they will form a rival transitional government.

The government of President Andry Rajoelina has issued a declaration calling for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held jointly in September, and for a proposal on a new transitional government to be signed in a ceremony by Tuesday.

They say the decisions are backed by around 200 politicians who attended talks Wednesday organized by Rajoelina.

Madagascar has been in political and economic crisis since Rajoelina seized presidential power with some military support in a March 2009 coup.

What plan proposes

The latest proposal to settle the crisis, put forth by mediators from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), would recognize Rajoelina as president of a new transitional government, while mandating elections before December.

With Madagascar’s three main opposition parties rejecting the proposal and calling for a new round of talks, Rajoelina announced he would hold his own talks last week.

He said the SADC process was taking too long, and that if their proposal was not signed soon, he and his backers would proceed with the proposal “whether it was signed or not."

Wednesday's declaration says that political parties urge Rajoelina to start putting the proposed measures in place and calls for recognition of his transition’s agreements, in particular a new constitution approved in a November referendum.

New constitution

The new constitution lowers the minimum age of presidential candidates from 40 to 35, and would allow the 36-year-old Rajoelina to remain president of the transitional authority until elections are held.

As around 50 small parties attended the government’s conference Wednesday, the three main political groups loyal to former presidents held a rally in the capital and announced they would set up a rival transition.

Former president Albert Zafy told the crowd that the current transitional authority “no longer has any legal framework” and that until a new round of negotiations is organized to put a “proper” transition in place, the opposition parties will form their own.

Zafy said Madagascar's people have waited too long, and that the opposition has decided to set up new institutions, given that the institutions put in place by Rajoelina are illegal and illegitimate.

He called on Madagascar’s army to shut down both chambers of a transitional parliament put in place by Rajoelina in October, and called on people to march with them to the United Nations offices' in Madagascar once the opposition's proposal for a transitional government is finished.

Madagascar’s government recently put in place a restriction banning the return of exiled former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana.

The deposed Ravalomanana, who was recently prevented from returning to Madagascar after two years exile in South Africa, spoke to supporters by phone at the rally and urged them “not to give in to the current intimidation."