Madagascar talks end with power-sharing agreement

Monday, November 9, 2009

Addis Ababa - Talks to end months of political turmoil in Madagascar have led to leaders of the major four political parties agreeing to settle the power share-out ahead of presidential elections in late 2010.

The four leaders agreed at the weekend on the makeup of a transitional unity government, said a communiqu, issued after the talks.

Andry Rajoelina, who overthrew former leader Marc Ravalomanana in March after weeks of violent street protests, remains president of the transitional unity government that will hold power until October 2010 elections, said the communiqu,.

But Rajoelina, who is president of the ruling High Transitional Authority, now will be joined by two co-presidents and one prime minister from other parties, it said.

Ravalomanana will not join the transitional unity government, but he will appoint a close ally, representing his party, to join the government, according to an official from the African Union, who declined to be named.

The talks started on Tuesday with the mediation of the United Nations and the African Union, and Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy all participated in the talks.

At the start of talks, the rivals remained deadlocked over the candidacy of the presidency of the transitional unity government.

Rajoelina demanded the presidency but was opposed by his rivals. He went back into the talks after briefly walking out Thursday night.

On 9 August, the four leaders agreed to share power in a 15-month transition during their first face-to-face talks.

However, in their second round of negotiations in Maputo in late August, they failed to agree on the transitional presidency and the post of the prime minister.

Since the beginning of the year, Madagascar has been stricken by political tensions, which have led to widespread violence, killings and arrests.

Ravalomanana resigned as president in early March amid a dispute with Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital city of Antananarivo, who is now the leader of the country.

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