Madagascar considers visa ban for SADC officials

Madagascar said it may refuse visas to officials from the Southern African Development Community after African nations blocked the island’s leader from addressing the UN General Assembly last week.
Prime Minister Monja Roindefo told Reuters he had sent letters to SADC member states represented on the Indian Ocean Island to demand an explanation, as well as a letter of protest to the UN headquarters.
“For now, we will leave it at that. Further actions (regarding visas) will depend on the responses we receive to our demands for an explanation,” Roindefo said.
Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in a March coup, was barred from speaking at the UN summit following a chaotic vote tabled by the regional bloc.
SADC mediators, led by Mozambique’s former President Joaquim Chissano, are expected in Madagascar for an International Contact Group meeting on October 6.
The meeting to try to revive a power-sharing deal which the opposition, SADC and some foreign powers say Rajoelina broke when he unilaterally formed a government earlier this month.
The former DJ toppled former leader Marc Ravalomanana after weeks of street protests, triggering months of instability and social unrest which have alarmed foreign investors and hurt growth on the oil and mineral-rich island.
Close allies of the three opposition movement leaders Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy say the trio remain committed to establishing a unity government.
Rajoelina’s diplomatically isolated government has said it is considering boycotting the October 6 meeting.
“If this meeting looks likely to do nothing for Madagascar, or looks set to block things further then we will not participate,” Roindefo said.
August’s power-sharing deal, signed in Mozambique, collapsed after the country’s power-brokers failed to agree on who should hold key posts, with Rajoelina demanding both the presidency and office of prime minister.
Some analysts say Rajoelina’s hand was forced by powerful individuals who backed his power-grab.
Local media reports said Rajoelina met Ratsiraka and Chissano in Paris after leaving New York.

Pic: Army backed President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar