SADC calls for Madagascar crisis talks

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pretoria - Southern African Development Community leaders have called for the return to dialogue in the ongoing political crisis in Madagascar.

In their joint communiqu, after a special summit which was held in Maputo, Mozambique, the SADC leaders on Thursday condemned the lack of progress in implementing a power-sharing deal in Madagascar.

"Summit urges all Malagasy Mouvances to return immediately to dialogue and show the necessary political will, leadership, flexibility, humility and balance to make concessions and reach a compromise solution in the formation of a transitional government of national unity," said the leaders.

President Jacob Zuma was among key regional leaders who attended the summit which coincided with the swearing in ceremony of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for the second term.

The leaders also condemned an attempt by Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in March 2009 with military backing, to schedule parliamentary elections for March.

This would effectively sideline the power-sharing deal with ousted president Marc Ravalomanana and two other presidents, which was reached in August last year.

"The summit rejects any attempt to use democratic means, institutions and processes to legitimize governments that came to power through unconstitutional means," read the communiqu,.

The summit also urged the international community to also reject it.

The crisis in the island has cut economic growth, scared away tourists and alarmed foreign investors in Madagascar's minerals mining and oil sectors.

Among other things, the summit discussed the power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe, in which the leaders praised Zuma's efforts to revive the flagging unity government. Zuma is the SADC facilitator for Zimbabwe.

"Summit also noted with appreciation the efforts of SADC Facilitator in assisting Zimbabwe to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and urged the parties to implement decisions made."

However, neither Robert Mugabe nor Morgan Tsvangirai was present at the summit - though Mugabe had earlier in the day attended Guebuza's inauguration.

The summit came just two days before negotiators from ZANU PF and the two MDC formations begin another round of talks on Saturday, which are supposed to thrash out the remaining and most contentious issues in the GPA.

Last week, a ministerial conference of SADC foreign affairs ministers that was also held in Maputo raised concerns at the slow pace in Harare at resolving outstanding issues in the power-sharing government.

The ministers warned that further delays could lead to more serious problems.