Ousted leader rejects new government deal
Madagascar's former president Marc Ravalomanana (photo), toppled in a coup in March, has rejected a deal on a new government, saying he "cannot accept a coup leader at the head of the transition government".
AFP - Madagascar's ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana on Friday rejected a deal reached earlier this week on a new transitional government for the Indian Ocean island, in an interview with AFP.
Negotiators for Madagascar's key powerbrokers reached a tentative deal on Tuesday on a transitional authority meant to restore stability after opposition leader Andry Rajoelina seized power with military backing in March.
The deal called for Rajoelina to head the transitional government, but Ravalomanana rejected the pact.
"I cannot accept a coup leader at the head of the transitional government," Ravalomanana told AFP in Johannesburg, where he lives in exile.
"I propose re-examining the nomination of the transitional president, the vice president and the prime minister," Ravalomanana said.
Madagascar's four main political groups signed a deal in August in the Mozambican capital Maputo to form a transitional authority, but have since disagreed over the distribution of the three most powerful jobs.
Negotiators for the four parties agreed Tuesday on the leadership of the new government with Rajoelina at its head.
Ravalomanana's negotiator Fetison Andrianirina had agreed to the deal, stipulating only that Rajoelina should not stand for election in polls slated for late 2010.
"Fetison does not represent me on the issue of the nomination of the transitional president," Ravalomanana said.
"It's not his job as head of the negotiating team to name the chief of the transition," he added.
The 59-year-old businessman didn't explain why his negotiators could not reach him during the talks Tuesday, but said he was "surprised" at the meeting's agenda.
He said he had expected the talks to merely update the parties on the work of the lead mediator, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.
The ousted president said that he had sent Chissano a letter on October 5, reiterating his refusal to accept Rajoelina as the transitional leader, who he said should be someone neutral.
But he said that he was prepared to accept Rajoelina as a candidate in the elections agreed for next year.
"That's democracy. I cannot prevent people from contesting the presidency, if he meets the constitutional requirements," Ravalomanana said.
Rajoelina took power after weeks of violent street protests, and assumed leadership of the island on March 17 with the military's blessing.
The international community has ostracised Madagascar since the overthrow, isolating the country diplomatically and cutting off aid.
Madagascar has suffered repeated political upheavals since the early 1970s. Ravalomanana himself took power on the back of street protests against the previous leader.