Madagascar power-sharing talks to resume

Madagascar’s political rivals will meet in Mozambique again next week to discuss how to allocate jobs in a power-sharing government they agreed to set up to end months of turmoil.
The next round of talks, dubbed Maputo II, will take place in the Mozambique capital on Aug 25-26, a close ally of ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana, told Reuters.
The country’s power-brokers face a 30-day deadline to nominate a president, a prime minister, three deputy premiers and 28 ministers under the terms of the power-sharing agreement they signed following the first round of talks on Aug 9.
Mistrust and manoeuvring have dominated the run-up to the next meeting after Andry Rajoelina, who toppled Ravalomanana with military backing in March, said last Friday only he could lead the transition.
Rajoelina’s power grab unnerved foreign companies investing in Madagascar’s growing oil and mineral sectors, scared off tourists and cut economic growth.
Questions have arisen about their ability to put self interest aside and work together under a deal that analysts say is fragile.
“It is next week’s meeting that will determine who is President,” Fetison Andrianirina, head of Ravalomanana’s delegation, said by telephone. “If the first Maputo agreement is not respected then Maputo II has little chance of succeeding.”
He said Rajoelina’s remarks suggested either he had no intention of honouring the first agreement or he no longer controlled his supporters.
Foreign donors including the International Monetary Fund, the EU and the US want to see an inclusive roadmap towards fresh, democratic elections implemented before they release frozen aid.
One diplomatic source said that while a date for round two of the negotiations was a positive development, it remained to be seen whether all four leaders would show up.
Ravalomanana’s camp said he would attend the talks, which are being mediated by the Southern Africa Development Community. It was not immediately possible to reach Rajoelina’s team.
Former presidents Didier Ratsiraka, exiled in France since 2002, and Albert Zafy are the other two signatories to the Maputo agreement.
Ravalomanana, who saw charges of abuse of political office against him scrapped under the deal, has promised to play no direct role in the transitional government. But he has not ruled out standing for president in future elections.

Pic: Ex President Marc Ravolamanana of Madagascar