SADC mediation team to Madagascar: South Africa

13th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Southern African officials will visit Madagascar on Wednesday to assess progress in efforts to end the country's protracted leadership battle, the South African government said.

A delegation of the Southern African Development Community's policy, defence and security organ, known as the Troika, "will urge the parties to accept the road map modified at the extraordinary summit" of the regional body in Johannesburg in June, a government statement said Tuesday.

Led by South Africa's deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Marius Fransman, the delegation will also include Tanzanian and Zambian officials, and will stay in Madagascar for two days.

Former Madagascan president Marc Ravalomanana has been living in South Africa since stepping down in March 2009 amid violent street protests and handing power to the military -- which promptly ceded it to strongman Andry Rajoelina, then the mayor of the capital Antananarivo.

Ravalomanana has refused to sign a roadmap backed by the SADC which would keep Rajoelina as president of a transitional government and allow his return from exile in South Africa when security conditions are "favourable".

Ravalomanana faces life in prison in Madagascar after being sentenced in absentia over the killing of demonstrators by his presidential guard during the protests that led to his overthrow.

Mauritian Foreign Minister Arvin Boolel proposed in August that the SADC open a ministerial liaison office in Madagascar to promote the roadmap.

© 2011 AFP

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