Madagascar: Andry Rajoelina ready to share power?

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Rajoelina seems to have recovered from his bout of stubbornness after assuring Malagasies, in a televised debate, Wednesday, of his intention to adhere to a new road-map towards the establishment of an all-hands-on-deck coalition government. He is expected to meet with his rival, the ousted President Marc Ravalomanana on April 24 in South Africa.

The Malagasy may be on its way to recovery from the political crisis that has rocked the country since the arrival of Rajoelina to power. In a televised address, Rajoelina, President of the High Authority of the transition (HAT), announced Wednesday night that he intends to meet with the ousted president Marc Ravalomanana on April 24 in South Africa, in order to establish a government of national unity.

“The South African president invited me. This meeting (with Marc Ravalomanana) in South Africa will be final,” he said. Earlier in the day, the Minister of the Malagasy Armed Forces Noël Rakotonandrasana, sacked a week ago, finalized his departure from the government with the Prime Minister Camille Vital.

But notwithstanding his willingness to allow for a unity government that includes all political actors in the southern African country, Rajoelina has ruled out a return to the Maputo and Addis Ababa agreements, which saw the participation of former Presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy.

“The international community has realized its mistake by integrating the two former presidents (Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy) … There is no intention to remove them (from the negotiations, ed), but it was decided that it is necessary to allow the two main protagonists to face each other,” Rajoelina is quoted as saying by L’Express de Madagascar.

According to Rajoelina, this decision is part of resolutions taken by a national workshop that took place early March but boycotted by the opposition.

Military threat

Rajoelina’s new position cannot be separated from a visit by Alain Joyandet, French State Secretary for Cooperation, to Madagascar some two weeks ago. According to RFI, the French statesman presented a road-map that was engineered with the help of South Africa. The document urges Rajoelina and Ravalomanana, his main rival, to work together to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

The fear of the army taking over is also believed to have encouraged this new move. In fact, April 12, the Malagasy military issued Rajoelina an ultimatum for a road-map to end the crisis by the end of the month.

The opposition has not yet commented on the Rajoelina’s proposal. But analysts believe that if Marc Ravalomanana agrees to partake in the open dialogue, it would be a bold step towards a lasting solution to the political imbroglio that has rocked the country since late 2008.

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