AU suspends Madagascar crisis talks


The African Union (AU) indefinitely suspended crisis talks in Madagascar after failing to broker a deal among the island’s feuding leaders on the formation of a consensus government.

AU envoy Ablasse Ouedraogo yesterday said a lack of political will had meant the internationally mediated talks had taken steps backwards, Reuters reports.

The country’s leaders needed to reflect on the consequences of their intransigence while the international community would re-assess its strategy, he said.

Political turmoil since the beginning of the year has wrought havoc on the Indian Ocean island’s $390 million-a-year tourism sector and unnerved major foreign companies investing in its booming oil and mineral sectors.

“The international mediators have decided to take a break in their efforts,” Ouedraogo told reporters in the capital Antananarivo.

“We are not disengaging with Madagascar, nor abandoning the process. Our work remains the same: to find a long-lasting peaceful solution.”

The AU diplomat said no date was set to resume the talks.

Regional leaders and foreign powers, who have widely condemned Andry Rajoelina’s power grab, have urged the formation of an inclusive interim authority to lead Madagascar into presidential elections as soon as possible.

However, the multi-party talks had all but ground to a halt after the four participating political movements failed to agree on a political amnesty clause that would have paved the way for ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana to return.

Rajoelina – who seized power with the backing of renegade troops in March – has said the return of Ravalomanana, now exiled in South Africa, was not up for discussion.

In a statement, the AU and United Nations warned the government and opposition against unilateral manoeuvring.

“Any attempt to find a unilateral way out of the crisis by one or other of the movements will receive neither the backing nor the endorsement of the international community,” it read.

Ouedraogo and his UN counterpart were expected to leave Madagascar within the next few days.

The government announced this month Ravalomanana has been sentenced in absentia to four years in jail for mixing private and public interests in the purchase of a presidential jet.

Experts have questioned the verdict’s constitutionality.

Many Malagasy have lost hope of a political compromise.

“This isn’t about Madagascar. This is about jealousy and rivalry among the country’s political dinosaurs. There’s no negotiated settlement to be had,” said despondent taxi driver Gege Herivelo.