Madagascar president says he tried to cut deal with rival
8/19/2012 9:50:03 PM -
ANTANANARIVO (AFP) - Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina said Sunday that he had made a fruitless attempt to cut a deal with his rival, ex-president Marc Ravalomanana, in which neither man would run for office.
Speaking after his return from Mozambique, where he had attended a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit aimed at solving the years-long standoff between the rivals, Rajoelina said he made the offer during a separate meeting with Ravalomanana, currently in exile in South Africa, in the Seychelles.
"I offered to not run if the former president agreed to return after the elections, but he did not want to," Rajoelina said.
SADC leaders said on Saturday they are considering presidential elections in Madagascar in May 2013 that would include neither Rajoelina nor Ravalomanana.
The 15-nation bloc suspended Madagascar from its ranks in 2009 after strongman Rajoelina toppled Ravalomanana.
Ravalomanana wants to return home to run for president but cannot do so for fear of prosecution after he was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment over the killing of 36 protesters by presidential guards during unrest in 2009.
Various political groups penned a peace roadmap in September last year that includes provisions for Ravalomanana's return, but does not exempt him from prosecution.
The question of Ravolomanana's return from exile has been the main stumbling block to the holding of elections to end the three-year crisis on Africa's largest island.
The Seychelles has in recent weeks hosted two failed mediation attempts to get the two leaders to patch up their differences.