OAU wants unity government in Madagascar

By Time of article published Mar 12, 2002

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Antananarivo - African mediators urged Madagascar's rival presidents on Tuesday to set up a government of national unity to resolve the leadership crisis engulfing the island.

Organisation of African Unity (OAU) diplomats have held talks with President Didier Ratsiraka and self-declared ruler Marc Ravalomanana to try to broker an end to the power struggle.

"There is an opening up in spirit of the two parties," said the leader of the delegation, Antonio Mascarenhas. "It is probable that the two protagonists will meet for discussions to find a peaceful solution," he said.

The OAU team called for the two rival presidents to set up an interim government, with members agreed on by both men, which would organise a fresh round of voting.

They called for an end to a general strike declared by Ravalomanana's supporters and for both sides to lift barricades set up at strategic points on the island.

Ravalomanana and his supporters accuse Ratsiraka of cheating in December's presidential elections to try to extend his 23-year rule.

But the OAU, the United Nations, the United States and former colonial power France have all condemned as unconstitutional the February 22 proclamation by Ravalomanana that he is president.

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