Madagascar talks postponed by a day

Talks to end Madagascar’s political crisis have been delayed by a day to allow parties to take stock, an African Union envoy said on Tuesday.

Mediators are trying to bring all political parties back to the negotiations after one delegation quit and another said at the weekend it would follow suit .

“We have delayed today’s meeting until … tomorrow to give the political parties time to study all the documents,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, the AU’s special envoy to Madagascar.

“The mediators remain optimistic. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The giant Indian Ocean island has been beset by political instability since the beginning of 2009.

President Andry Rajoelina seized power in March with the army’s backing but foreign leaders and regional blocs have branded his rise to power as unconstitutional.

Several donors, including the International Monetary Fund, have suspended non-emergency aid.

A team representing former President Didier Ratsiraka, who remains an influential figure in Malagasy politics, walked out of talks meant to form a consensus government at the weekend.

Ratsiraka was forced into exile in France during the country’s last crisis in 2002 that saw Marc Ravalomanana take power. He was in turn forced into exile in South Africa this year by Rajoelina.

The turmoil has continued as Ravalomanana insists from exile that he remains president, and other political heavyweights jostle for positions ahead of promised elections.

An end to the chaos, which has wrecked the island’s $390 million-a-year tourism sector, momentarily appeared near on Friday evening when U.N. envoy Drame Tiebile said the feuding parties had agreed to form an inclusive interim government.

If concluded, the deal could allow Rajoelina and Ravalomanana to contest an election.


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