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Malagasy peace deal sits on pending tray

16th December 2012
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President Jakaya Kikwete escorts President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina after four hours of talkson Friday night at the State House in Dar es Salaam. Photo by State House

President Jakaya Kikwete and transitional Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina yesterday agreed to hold another meeting before the end of this month to conclude the matter of conditions for normalizing the situation in Madagascar.

A joint communiqué issued by senior aides of the two leaders said yesterday that significant progress had been made in the talks, but the two leaders agreed to have further consultations with relevant stakeholders prior to meeting again before the end of the month to conclude the matter,
The communiqué was issued late in the day after the Madagascan leader had left the country, and observers started to get the impression that the political impasse in Madagascar look headed for more rounds and further delays before consensus is reached on crucial issues.

 President Rajoelina flew back to Antananarivo midday yesterday after lengthy discussions which started after his arrival Friday afternoon, for discussion with President Kikwete, as chairman of the SADC organ for Defence and Security.

Briefings were hard to come by as to what had transpired between the two Heads of State, and a news conference earlier slated at the State House in Dar es Salaam was cancelled, indicating that the Madagascar leader was not ready to state his position on issues or on accords reached with President Kikwete. 

The two Heads of State met a week after 14 SADC Heads of State declared that former Madagascar president, Mark Ravalomanana  be allowed to return home from South Africa without conditions – one of the key items on the table at the latest consultations in Dar es Salaam.

Ravalomanana who was forced to resign in March, 2009 after series of public demonstrations led by Rajoelina’s supporters and backed by some of high ranking army officers has been in South Africa where he had since taken refuge. He climbed to power in 2002 after leading a coup that toppled President Didier Ratsiraka.

Another important point of agreement among the SADC Heads of State last week was that both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina should not run for president in the presidential elections slated for May, 2013.

Ravalomanana was explicit at a news conference in Dar es Salaam last Monday, where he declared he would not run for an elective post in the scheduled election. So Rajoelina’s position – whether he will heed SADC’s call or decides to reject it – was eagerly awaited by regional leaders.

Since seizing power in 2009, Tanzania is the second country to host Rajoelina apart from Seychelles. Both his trips have centred on finding a lasting solution to Madagascar’s political crisis.
During his early days in power when African Union and SADC countries voiced criticism on the way he replaced Ravalomana, Rajoelina was quoted as saying that he was like his predecessor – simply struggling to win international backing after he toppled Didier Ratsiraka.

In the wake of current developments, it remains unclear whether the SADC roadmap to have the general election held on May 8 2013 and parliamentary electiona in July 2013 would remain on course.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY