Madagascar PM warns island could split over crisis

Madagascar’s prime minister has accused the international community of betraying President Andry Rajoelina and warned the mineral-producing island risked being torn into fiefdoms ruled by warlords.
Opposition groups, regional bodies and foreign powers were quick to reject a new government named unilaterally by Rajoelina and his premier, Monja Roindefo, on the grounds that it broke a power-sharing deal signed in Maputo last month.
“Rajoelina feels betrayed by the International Contact Group (ICG),” Roindefo said late yesterday in a televised debate with the head of ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana’s movement.
Rajoelina toppled Ravalomanana in a March coup with the help of dissidents in the Malagasy military.
Roindefo said the island remained a sovereign state and that the three opposition parties were foreign creations.
“The president and the prime minister of the transition reflect the national will. The ICG then created these other parties. If we are not careful, we will end up like Somalia with warlords,” he said.
Madagascar, which is richly endowed with oil, nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and coal deposits, has been rocked by political turmoil since the beginning of the year, sending economic growth towards negative territory.
Foreign firms operating on the island include a subsidiary of UK-based Rio Tinto and Canada’s Sherritt International.
The international community invited former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy to negotiations after Rajoelina and Ravalomanana declined to talk directly following the coup.
“Double standards”
Analysts say the army has divided loyalties despite presenting a united front, and that in a worst case scenario it could split into factions.
Sat opposite Monja, Ravalomanana aide Fetison Andrianirina said the Indian Ocean Island`s opposition remained united in their determination to establish a consensus government.
He called on Rajoelina to return to the negotiating table and accused the new administration of employing double standards when they talked about the deal struck in Mozambique.
“You brandish the Maputo charter when you feel it suits you, for example, in creating a government. But you fail to respect the agreement’s terms when it comes to setting up the agreed institutions,” Andrianirina said.
Last weekend saw a return of clashes between security forces and opposition supporters in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo.
Today, Justice Minister Christine Razanamahasoa said Ravalomanana’s party spokesman, Raharinaivo Andrianantoandro, had been arrested late on Tuesday for inciting public disorder.
“He was the instigator behind this weekend’s gathering and the violence that followed,” she told Reuters.
His arrest follows that of Naiky Eliana, a Ravalomanana ally and former senator, who was detained last week.
The government blamed Ravalomanana allies, including Andrianantoandro, for a spate of foiled bomb attacks in Antananarivo in July. Critics say the arrests were political.

Pic: Army backed President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar