(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

SADC steps in to mediate

Pres Jacob Zuma consults with SADC Executive Sec Dr Augasto Salomao at the start of Summit (June 2009)
DFA South Africa

Where many have tried and failed, now the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called on Madagascar’s political rivals to consider peaceful dialogue to end months of political crisis.



Heads of State of the 15-nation regional body met in South Africa on 20 June to consider the political and security situation in the Indian Ocean Island after the last mediation attempt by the African Union (AU) collapsed on 16 June.



Finding common ground for the different feuding parties “will be extremely difficult,” Stephen Ellis, professor in the faculty of social sciences at the Free University of Amsterdam and Senior researcher at the Africa Study Centre in Leiden, the Netherlands, told IRIN, adding that a number international mediation efforts under the auspices of organizations like the AU and the United Nations had been fruitless.



In a statement following the Extraordinary Summit SADC noted the “slow progress experienced so far in the dialogue among the parties. There was serious concern on the deteriorating political situation in Madagascar mainly characterized by [rising] hostility among the different political groups in Madagascar”.



Negotiations on the formation of an inclusive interim authority and fresh presidential polls following the coup-style change of leadership in February had consistently stalled with incumbent, Andry Rajoelina, refusing to discuss the return of ousted president, Marc Ravalomanana.



Joaquim Chissano, a well respected former Mozambican president who has successfully mediated in a number of African political stalemates, was appointed to lead the all-party dialogue in Madagascar. The country remains suspended from both the AU and SADC.



According to Ellis, SADC would have to reconsider its position demanding the reinstatement of Ravalomanana if negotiations were to move forward. He also noted that “those in power [Rajoelina] don’t have any incentive to give it up”.



tdm/oa

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