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Crisis talks resume between feuding leaders

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-06

Madagascar's new leader, Andry Rajoelina, and his predecessor, Marc Ravalomanana met on Thursday on the second of four days of talks in the Mozambican capital, in an internationally-backed effort to end the country's political crisis.

AFP - Madagascar's rivals will tackle the core of the country's political deadlock Thursday as crisis talks resume between interim leader Andry Rajoelina and ex-president Marc Ravalomanana, a source said.

"The first day was a reunion, they were a bit shy. The participants will on Thursday go into the core of the matter," a source from the mediation team said late Wednesday.

The country's four main political leaders, including ex-presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, are meeting for first-time direct talks in the Mozambican capital in an internationally-backed effort to end the crisis.

Rajoelina took power in March with army-backing after violent riots left more than 100 people dead, but has been ostracised by the international community since the overthrow.

At the opening day of the four-day talks, the pair exchanged a handshake after an initial icy atmosphere.

"They are in good spirits and respectful towards each other," said Edem Kodjo of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (French-speaking countries), referring to Ravalomanana and Rajoelina.

Ravalomanana, in a meeting with mediators led by former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano on Wednesday, pledged to work to restore constitutional order and called for a return to the rule of law and for reconciliation to start.

"Democracy should be respected and ensured at all costs. Therefore, as we work together to find a solution to this crisis, the will of Malagasy people must come before all else," he said in a statement of his remarks to mediators.

The mediation team includes officials from the African Union, United Nations, the International Organisation of the Francophonie (French-speaking countries) and the Southern African Development Community.

Date created : 2009-08-06