Madagascar parties agree on posts and president

Madagascar’s feuding political parties agreed the top three posts in an interim government yesterday with 35-year-old Andry Rajoelina remaining president, delegates at power-sharing talks said.
Rajoelina toppled Marc Ravalomanana in a coup in March, triggering months of political turmoil on an Indian Ocean island that is increasingly eyed by foreign investors for its oil, nickel, cobalt, gold, coal and limonite, Reuters reports.
“We now have the three posts that were missing in Maputo,” Ange Andrianarisoa, head of one of the four delegations, told reporters, referring to previous talks in Mozambique.
“The president is Andry Rajoelina, the vice-president is Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, and the prime minister is Eugene Mangalaza.”
Yesterdays` meeting of the International Contact Group was the latest push to establish a unity government that will organise fresh presidential and legislative elections before late 2010.
The African Union’s (AU) special envoy to Madagascar, Ablasse Ouedraogo, said the agreement which has yet to be formally signed marked the beginning of restoring constitutional order on the world’s fourth largest island.
But he said much work remained to be done.
“What has been achieved today constitutes the beginning of setting up a transition (to be put in place) through the continued implementation of the Maputo charter,” Ouedraogo said.
Ouedraogo confirmed that Ravalomanana had accepted that Rajoelina should remain president on condition that he would not stand at the next presidential election.
Rajoelina has not yet responded, but Ouedraogo said Ravalomanana’s condition did not conform with the Maputo deal.
Aid remains blocked
Foreign governments branded the military-backed power grab by Rajoelina, a former disc jockey, unconstitutional and key donors suspended aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The AU’s top diplomat, Jean Ping, said sanctions could still not be ruled out and refused to clarify when the suspension of Madagascar from the AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) might end.
“Certain threats (regarding sanctions) could remain in place if there is not the willingness to exit this crisis,” he said.
Rajoelina said last week that he would choose a new prime minister if foreign donors unblocked aid.
Analysts say the economy is heading for zero growth and reserves are dwindling. The local currency is depreciating and food prices have shot up.
“We are going to support Madagascar. Humanitarian aid must continue and the end of all that (frozen aid) happens when we return to a situation of normalcy. That is to say free elections,” Ping added.
It was not immediately clear whether Rajoelina’s prime minister, Monja Roindefo, who is seen by observers as a hardliner, remained in office or not.
He has not yet formally resigned and it remained uncertain whether he would force Rajoelina to fire him.
Mangalaza, the man picked as prime minister yesterday, is close to former president Didier Ratsiraka but is considered politically neutral. He is a professor of social anthropology.

Pic: Army backed President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar