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Thursday 31 July  

Madagascar rivals to meet next week

Published on 21 July 2012 - 4:52pm
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Madagascar's rival leaders, exiled president Marc Ravalomanana and transitional strongman Andry Rajoelina, will have an unprecedented meeting in the Seychelles Wednesday, a source close to its preparation said.

"The one-on-one starts on the 25th and we are hoping to get an agreement then," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity. "This might go into the morning of the 26th."

The two rivals last month agreed on a meeting to solve the festering political crisis that followed Rajoelina's power grab in 2009, but so far no date had been set.

The meeting will not be their first but it is different from previous talks in that the pair have never met in private since 2009.

Ravalomanana, who now lives in South Africa, was served with a summons Tuesday over a $23 million lawsuit filed by victims of the 2009 unrest that led to his ouster.

According to the legal papers delivered to his hotel in Pretoria, he is expected to appear at a South African court on August 1 for a hearing in the case.

He faces life in prison after being sentenced in absentia for the killing of demonstrators by his presidential guard during protests that led to his overthrow. Thirty-six people were killed and hundreds wounded.

Rajoelina then seized power in an army-backed coup in the face of regional condemnation, but has failed to steer the vast Indian Ocean island nation back to democracy.

Authorities in Madagascar have twice prevented Ravalomanana and his wife from returning home.

A time frame for legislative and presidential elections is to be announced later this month to help the country end the three-year crisis.

Rajoelina is expected in the Seychelles on Monday and Ravalomanana a day later when talks between the two sides will start before the one-on-one on Wednesday.

Southern African nations which have not reacted to the announcement on Monday issued a fresh deadline of July 31 for the rival leaders to reach a deal.

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) has threatened to exclude from future talks any party seen as undermining a deal on implementing political reforms.

In Antananarivo the communication ministry was not immediately available for comment and the foreign ministry in the Seychelles would not make any statement.

© ANP/AFP
  • Ousted Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana speaks during a press ...
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