Madagascar political rivals agree to unity government deal

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Andry Rajoelina
Marc Ravalomanana

Four of Madagascar's top political figures signed an agreement on Saturday to form a coalition government, ahead of next year's planned elections.

According to the agreement, Andry Rajoelina, who instigated a coup earlier this year to overthrow ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, will remain the president. He, as well as Ravalomanana and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, signed the agreement on Saturday.

"There will be two co-presidents as well as the president. That has been decided and accepted by leaders of the four movements, and by the president of the transition too," Rajoelina said to reporters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to the United Nations' special envoy to Madagascar, Tiebile Drame, the four are now dividing up ministerial portfolios. "The Madagascan leaders have managed to reach an accord on putting in place a transitional charter," Drame said. "They agreed on the leadership of transitional institutions, including the presidency, and on power sharing in the government and other institutions."

However, it is currently unclear how power would be split between the president and the two co-presidents, also referred to as the "presidential council". Drame said that the government would consist of "a consensual president, two consensual co-presidents, a consensus prime minister and a national unity government."

Rajoelina, aged 35, overthrew former president Ravalomanana on March 17 this year, with the support of the army. Ravalomanana is now in exile in South Africa. However, Rajoelina's government has not received much recognition from the international community.