New team to hold talks in Madagascar - Daily Nation

New team to hold talks in Madagascar

Saturday May 2 2009

Anti-riot police fire tear-gas at supporters of Madagascar's former president Marc Ravalomanana in the capital Antananarivo March 28, 2009. PHOTO/ REUTERS

Anti-riot police fire tear-gas at supporters of Madagascar's former president Marc Ravalomanana in the capital Antananarivo March 28, 2009. Police tear-gassed supporters of Ravalomanana for a third successive day on Saturday to stop them gathering in the main square of the Indian Ocean island's capital. Thousands of pro-Ravalomanana supporters held a rally in an Antananarivo park -- the sixth in six days -- and then tried to reach the May 13 plaza where Madagascar's new leader, Andry Rajoelina, had held months of protests prior to assuming power. PHOTO/ REUTERS 

By ARGAW ASHINE, SUNDAY NATION Correspondent in Addis Ababa

The African Union inaugurates a new international contact group for Madagascar on Friday to end the political stalemate and pave way for an election.

The international contact group set up by the African Union constitutes 18 representatives from Southern Africa Development Community, the European Union, and five permanent members of United Nations Security Council.

The contact group aims to take a common position to return constitutional government in Madagascar.

African Union chief Jean Ping told reporters the union is concerned about Madagascar’s quick deterioration.

“The situation in Madagascar today is dangerous and we must find a way to return constitutional order,” he added.

Military-backed President Andry Rajoelina ousted democratically elected leader Marc Ravalomanana last February and has been facing rejection from the international community.

AU’s special envoy in Madagascar, Ablasse Ouedraogo, said elections were promised for 2010, but that the Madascar authorities “have said they are ready to organize elections before the end of this year.”

“That will be possible if all the protagonists in Madagascar’s political crisis understand the need to make concessions,” Mr Ouedraogo added.  

The contact group is scheduled to organize peace talks among Madagascar’s political rivals.

All four main political groups will be invited for dialogue, said Mr Ouedraogo.