August 23, 2009 / 1:51 PM / 10 years ago

Madagascar's leaders committed to power-sharing

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar’s political rivals remain committed to a fair division of power within a government of national unity, mediators said on Sunday before a second round of talks in Mozambique.

Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina speaks during a meeting with former President Marc Ravalomanana and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao in Maputo August 5, 2009. REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg

The island’s power-brokers are mid-way through a 30-day deadline to nominate a president, a prime minister, three deputy premiers and 28 ministers under the terms of a deal they signed following the first round of talks on August 9.

“(The key players) commit to an unconditional support for the spirit and objectives of the national transitional charter,” said a statement issued by the mediation team led by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mistrust and brinksmanship have dominated the run-up to Tuesday’s two-day talks in Mozambique’s capital Maputo after Andry Rajoelina, who led a coup last March to oust ex-leader Marc Ravalomanana, said only he could lead the transition.

Chief mediator Joaquim Chissano, a former president of Mozambique, said no political offices had yet been allocated.

“Maputo II will be the distribution of posts, primarily among the four political movements,” he told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo.

Rajoelina’s military-backed power-grab in March unnerved foreign investors and cut economic growth.

Foreign governments condemned the coup, froze aid and called for a roadmap to fresh elections.

Analysts describe the initial Maputo agreement — signed by Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy — as fragile and question whether the four leaders can work together.

Madagascar’s armed forces, which are seen by analysts as pivotal to the success of an eventual agreement, were broadly satisfied with the August 9 accord.

They however called for a single clause paving the way for a multi-party committee on defense and national security to be scrapped.

Chissano said he had told the island’s military chiefs that the clause would not be removed.

Ravalomanana, who saw charges of abuse of political office against him scrapped under the deal, has promised to play no direct role in the transitional government. He has however not ruled out standing for president in future elections.

Editing by Angus MacSwan

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