Madagascar army satisfied with power-sharing deal

Madagascar’s army chief said today he was satisfied with a power-sharing deal struck by the Indian Ocean Island’s feuding politicians last weekend after months of turmoil.
Analysts say the stance of the military will be pivotal to the success of any agreement. Large dissident factions within the armed forces backed a coup by Andry Rajoelina that toppled former leader Marc Ravalomanana in March.
Months of political instability have curbed economic growth, alarmed foreign investors in Madagascar’s important minerals and mining sectors and scared away tourists.
Before last week’s negotiations in Mozambique, army chief Colonel Andre Ndriarijoana had warned that he would not accept the return of Ravalomanana as president.
“We are satisfied,” Ndriarijoana told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.
“We had warned against the return to power of the former president .That would have provoked unrest.”
Ravalomanana, who had been accused of abuse of office to further his private business interests, agreed to play no direct role in a new transitional government in return for the dropping of the criminal charges against him.
The move paves the way for his return to the island.
Madagascar’s power-brokers agreed on Saturday to set up a national unity government headed by a transitional president, a prime minister, three deputy prime ministers and 28 ministers, and to hold presidential elections within 15 months.
Experts say the accord is fragile and question if the rivals will first be able to share out the political posts, and then work together over the course of the transition.
With his amnesty, Ravalomanana will be eligible to contest a future presidential vote unless new charges are brought.
The multi-millionaire says he plans to return to the world’s fourth largest island, which is rich in cobalt, nickel, gold, uranium and gemstones, and would not rule out running again.

Ousted President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar