Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ban Ki-moon calls for speedy deal in Madagascar


United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged rival political leaders in restive Madagascar to expedite negotiations on the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

"The Secretary General welcomes the progress achieved in Madagascar towards the establishment of a Government of National Unity," a UN statement said.

Ban appealed to Malagasy leaders "to quickly conclude the negotiations for the appointment of members of the transitional government and make the necessary concessions to ensure that the transitional process runs smoothly".

And he vowed that the world body would remain remain engaged in the mediation process led by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.

On Tuesday, Madagascar's political rivals reached a tentative agreement on a transitional government after talks with international mediators.

The Indian Ocean island's leader Andry Rajoelina, who in March toppled president Marc Ravalomanana, will continue to head the transitional government.

Madagascar's interim prime minister will be Eugene Mangalaza, a heavyweight in the party of deposed president Didier Ratsiraka, who was ousted himself by Ravalomanana, a spokesperson for Ratsiraka's faction said.

Mangalaza, a historian, has great diplomatic skills and brokered talks between former president Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana who ousted him and then took power in a controversial election.

Deposed leader Ravalomanana however forced a condition that interim leader Rajoelina, who threw him out with the army's backing, would not be a candidate in a future election, the spokesperson said.

The Indian Ocean island has been mired in a political crisis since early this year following months of anti-government protests that culminated when Rajoelina toppled his rival on March 17 with the army's backing.