AU To Slap Sanctions On Madagascar

The 53-member bloc on February 16 issued a one-month ultimatum to the Indian Ocean island’s leadership, headed by strongman Andry Rajoelina, to comply with agreements reached in a series of negotiations with rivals last year.

The sanctions will be announced after a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council meeting later on Wednesday, an AU official said.

“In situations like these, the AU has made it clear that it imposes sanctions. Today’s measures will most probably be ‘no travelling’ for Rajoelina and his staff,” an AU diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“They are also likely to impose economic restrictions, which could include asset freezes.”

Rajoelina, who seized power in an army-backed coup in March 2009, has spurned power-sharing accords with three former presidents and instead announced plans to hold elections.

Earlier this month, Rajoelina rejected an AU invitation for talks with his rivals at its Addis Ababa headquarters.

Uganda’s ambassador to the AU Mull Sebujja Katende said last month the bloc would impose “targeted sanctions” on the Indian Ocean island leaders, but did not elaborate.

Rajoelina, a 35-year-old former disc jockey, led weeks of sometimes violent protest to oust then president Marc Ravalomanana, but his popular movement has been condemned by regional groupings and other world powers.  SAPA