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Top political figures agree on power-sharing deal ahead of elections

Madagascar's top four political figures have reached a power-sharing agreement ahead of elections next year, says a UN official involved in the talks.

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Madagascar’s political rivals struck a deal late on Friday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on the make-up of a unity government, paving the way for an end to a nine-month political crisis that has crippled the country.

Coup instigator Andry Rajoelina, ousted President Marc Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy all signed the accord.

The agreement sees Rajoelina remain president until elections in late 2010. He will be accompanied by two new co-presidents instead of vice-presidents to represent different political parties.

Fetison Rakoto Andrianirina, a top aide to ousted President Marc Ravalomanana, will be one of the co-presidents. The second co- presidency is assigned to Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, from the political movement of former president Albert Zafy.

It was not immediately clear, however, how executing power would be divided between the president and the so-called presidential council.

The four leaders agreed to a 15-month transition period in August but had since being arguing over power-sharing details.

Ravalomanana actively participated in the reconciliation deal but reportedly refused to be take part in a government which sees Rajoelina retain power as president of the island nation.

Exiled in South Africa and increasingly isolated from Madagascar’s political arena, Ravalomanana will now have his close ally Andrianirina at the highest political level.

AFP correspondent Emmanuel Goujon told FRANCE 24 from Addis Ababa that the power-sharing agreement meant real progress for Madagascar. “At least there is a proper government of consensus that the different parties have accepted. Now that government can get to work,” Goujon said.

Rajoelina, a 35-year-old former disc jockey, toppled Ravalomanana with the army's backing on March 17 but has since failed to win the recognition of the international community.

The coup came as a result of months of sometimes violent demonstrations that left the island in diplomatic and institutional limbo, with parallel administrations claiming legitimacy.

“Since they have reached an agreement now Madagascar can receive foreign aid. The EU was threatening Madagascar with the suspension of 630 million euros if they did not reach an agreement,” Goujan added.

Months of political turmoil have sent economic growth spiralling into negative territory and forced some major foreign investors to review their business plans in the oil and mineral-endowed country.

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