Madagascar’s Rajoelina Rejects SADC Plan to Let Rival Ravalomanana Return

Madagascar’s government, led by Andry Rajoelina, will reject a South African Development Community resolution that it should allow former president Marc Ravalomanana to return from exile.

“We will not sign an amended roadmap,” Harry Rahajason, minister of communications, said by phone from Antananarivo, the capital. “We’ve already got our constitution. We agreed to take part in SADC talks in this spirit.”

The Indian Ocean island nation’s transitional government will keep to a previous SADC-proposed agreement that left Rajoelina as head of a transitional government and called for Ravalomanana to remain in South Africa until after elections, he said.

A SADC heads-of-state summit in Johannesburg yesterday endorsed the roadmap with some changes, including that Ravalomanana be allowed to return to Madagascar. Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana as president with the help of the military in 2009, leading to the country’s suspension from SADC and the African Union, and resulting in donors stopping aid that made up two-thirds of state revenue. SADC consists of 15 southern African states, including South Africa.

The refusal to agree to the latest plan after two years of SADC mediation may extend the political crisis and discredit elections expected to take place within a year. Madagascar, with a $9 billion economy, is the world’s largest vanilla grower, while oil, nickel and titanium products have also attracted investor interest.

EU Sanctions

Madagascar’s three main opposition political groups, led by former presidents Didier Ratsiraka, Albert Zafy and Ravalomanana, didn’t agree to the previous roadmap.

“Last night the SADC unilaterally amended their own roadmap,” Rahajason said. “The regional mediators have nothing to impose on Madagascar,” he said.

The decision to change an agreement that was signed by eight of 11 political parties may lead to those parties pulling out of SADC mediation, Rahajason said.

Rajoelina has reneged on various power-sharing agreements over the past two years, and his government isn’t recognized by the United Nations Security Council, European Union parliament said.

The EU and UNSC should “impose and extend sanctions on the regime until the political crisis is resolved,” the EU parliament said in a statement on its website.

Madagascar’s ariary has weakened 3.4 percent to 1,935.50 against the dollar since the start of 2009, according to Bloomberg data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hannah McNeish in Johannesburg at hmcneish@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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