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Madagascar President Pledges Resolution to Crisis by End of Year

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina agreed to a final round of talks mediated by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete to resolve the country’s almost four-year political crisis before the end of December.

The announcement was made in a joint statement released after the leaders met Dec. 14-15 in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam. “Significant progress has been made,” according to the statement. “The two leaders agreed to have further consultations with relevant stakeholders prior to meeting again before the end of this month to conclude on the matter.”

Rajoelina, supported by the Madagascan military, ousted elected President Marc Ravalomanana in March 2009 following a series of protests, sparking a political crisis. The Indian Ocean-island nation is the world’s largest vanilla grower.

Rajoelina, a former nightclub disc jockey, has come under pressure from the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, African Union and donors to help resolve the political impasse, paving the way for democratic reforms and elections.

Ravalomanana is living in exile in South Africa because he risks arrest after being sentenced to life in prison for civilian deaths during protests in Madagascar. Ravalomanana announced after meeting Kikwete this month that he’ll abstain from running in the next elections.

Kikwete is the current chairman of the politics, defense and security cooperation committee of SADC.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Malingha Doya in Dar es Salaam at dmalingha@bloomberg.net; Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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