Madagascar strongman agrees to open government to rivals

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Madagascar strongman Andry Rajoelina said Wednesday he was willing to let his rivals join his government but wants to keep his current prime minister until fresh elections can be held.

"I am ready to form a government with the other political forces, including the former president and even the other presidents, to head toward elections," Rajoelina told AFP outside talks in the South African capital.

Speaking at the margins of the negotiations with three former presidents aimed at resolving the Indian Ocean island's 15-month political crisis, Rajoelina said legislative elections should be held within several months and a presidential election in November.

Rajoelina seized power in March 2009 after weeks of sometimes violent street protests, ousting Marc Ravalomanana with the military's blessing.

Former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy have held repeated rounds of talks with the Ravalomanana and Rajoelina factions seeking a way out of the crisis.

© 2010 AFP

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