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Power-sharing talks deadlocked over top job

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-26

A council of Madagascar's feuding leaders, including ousted president Marc Ravalomanana and his rival Andry Rajoelina, has failed to agree on who should lead a transitional government with a mandate to organise new elections.

REUTERS - Talks to end months of political instability in Madagascar were deadlocked on Wednesday as the island's leaders bickered over who would head a transitional government mandated with restoring constitutional order.

 

Andry Rajoelina, who grabbed power in March after he toppled ex-leader Marc Ravalomanana with military backing, saw his attempt to consolidate his leadership of the oil and mineral-producing island rebuffed by opponents.

 

A senior ally of Ravalomanana told Reuters the former president had refused to endorse 35-year-old Rajoelina as president of the planned government of national unity.

 

"If Madagascar wants to remain a democratic state in the eyes of the international community then we must not legitimise the seizing power through popular unrest," Fetison Andrianirina said by telephone.

 

Rajoelina has said he is the only one who can lead the transition.

 

"Up to now we have been unable to reach agreement on who should be president," Andrianirina said.

 

African nations and foreign powers branded the former DJ's rise to power a coup. Both the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) suspended Madagascar and foreign donors froze aid.

 

Mediators led by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano clung to the hope of seeing the Indian Ocean island's power-brokers reach a compromise before the end of the day.

 

"We will give them enough time. But respecting the deadline, we will encourage them to reach a consensus as soon as possible," Chissano said ahead of Wednesday's discussions.

 

Ravalomanana's camp said this appeared optimistic.

 

"I don't think we'll reach a solution today. There are certain stances that remain irreconcilable," said Andrianirina.

 

Power hungry

 

Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and two former presidents -- Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy -- must nominate a president, a prime minister, three deputy prime ministers and 28 ministers within 30 days of an Aug. 9 deal struck in Mozambique's capital Maputo.

 

In a communique, the AU called on the bitter rivals to place national interests above their own private ambitions.

 

The world's fourth largest island has suffered a turbulent history since independence from France in 1960, with political office commonly associated with corruption and patronage.

 

Analysts say the bloated delegations accompanying each leader -- Rajoelina's is some 30-strong -- shows a reluctance among the political figureheads to put their country first.

 

"All the men and women awaiting nomination to a political post must understand that they have been chosen not to enrich themselves or to empty the state coffers, but to prepare and organise the next presidential elections," wrote Zo Rakotoseheno, editor of a national newspaper in Madagascar.

 

Under the Aug. 9 accord, all members of the transitional government except the president will be barred from contesting the next presidential election. The poll must be held within 15 months of the agreement's signature.

 

Date created : 2009-08-26

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