Madagascar's Leader Snubs Calls For Power-Sharing

The AU’s Jean Ping left Madagascar on Friday after meeting the main power brokers and urging power-sharing deals agreed last year to be respected to end the year-long turmoil that has crippled economic growth and unnerved investors.

Rajoelina ruled out power-sharing in a statement late on Thursday: “…It is already the source of a new crisis and the origin of serious troubles in our country in recent times.”

“We’re not concerned by the current reactions,” Ping told reporters after meeting the military leaders who backed Rajoelina’s March coup, the government and opposition parties.

“The parties now have 15 days (to respond). We will wait for their definitive reactions and base our conclusions on those.”

Rajoelina’s hardline stance will do little to appease donors who stress that frozen aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars will only be released once there is a roadmap towards restoring constitutional order that is backed by all sides.

Africa’s youngest leader, who insists elections are the best way out of the crisis, added that last year’s failed attempts to set up a unity government were proof a multiparty, inclusive administration was the wrong answer.

“The transitional regime repeats its commitment to organising consensual elections, free and inclusive in their preparation and organisation,” said Rajoelina, who has scheduled elections for March 20.
But there are concerns among opposition leaders and international mediators that a hastily organised ballot will lack credibility and transparency.

Increased investor interest in Madagascar’s oil and mineral reserves by major foreign companies including Rio Tinto and Exxon Mobil has been undermined by months of political turmoil.

One opposition source conceded that although the opposition still demanded the formation of a unity government, it was inconceivable the political rivals would sit in the same room and work together.

“We need a miracle now,” said the senior opposition figure.

Madagascar is likely to be high on the agenda of the AU summit opening in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on January 25. Reuters