Madagascar: Who will head the transition government?

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The current strong man of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, alongside three former presidents of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy met Wednesday in Maputo, Mozambique for the second consecutive day to find an agreement to the political quagmire that has crippled their country since the beginning of the year, but failed to agree on the distribution of key positions within an eventual transitional government.

“It is stalling… they disagree on all sensitive positions,” disclosed a source close to the mediation. Ongoing power sharing talks in Maputo, Mozambique, between the four main Malagasy political leaders stalled on Wednesday, the second day of negotiations. The current Madagascar strongman Andry Rajoelina, and three former presidents of the country, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, were unable to reach an agreement on the appointment of the chairman of the transitional government. Andry Rajoelina, the current leader of Madagascar does want to vacate his position for anyone. To complicate matters even more, his movement is also insisting on grabbing the prime ministerial position.

This attitude has come against strong opposition from supporters of Marc Ravalomanana, former head of state ousted in March this year. President cannot conferred on anyone “who took power by force,” insisted one of his supporters who favours the appointment of a “neutral person” to the coveted function. “This is what is stalling (the talks), once settled, everything will go according to plan,” he said.

On March 17, 2009, Marc Ravalomanana was forced to cede his powers to a military directorate. Shortly afterwards, they installed Rajoelina Andry, then mayor of Antananarivo, as the new head of state. A major political turmoil ensued between the rival supporters partially paralyzing the Big Island.

Second round

Under pressure from the international community, the two protagonists finally agreed to sit at the negotiating table. Former presidents, Albert Zafy – who reportedly wants to be nominated as head of the transitional government – and Didier Ratsiraka agreed to join them.

Under the mediation of Joachim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, the four political leaders signed an agreement on a transition period expected to end the political crisis in Madagascar, on August 9 in Maputo. The agreement provides for the establishment of a new transitional government comprising 32 ministers as well as the holding of a presidential election by the end of 2010.

But discussions on the allocation of key positions, especially the transitional president and the Prime Minister of consensus, led to a deadlock on the second day of talks.

The four Malagasy political heavyweights have, according to their own agreements, until September 9 to allocate key positions and set up stipulated transitional institutions on which the return to peace is highly dependent.

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