December 8, 2009 / 4:15 PM / 10 years ago

Madagascar opposition agree unity government

* Rajoelina boycotts talks, rejects accord

* Political wrangles have put off investors

By Charles Mangwiro

MAPUTO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Madagascar’s opposition leaders shook hands in Mozambique on Tuesday on the make-up of a power-sharing government, but leader Andry Rajoelina who boycotted the negotiations said he will reject any agreement.

Political turmoil has rocked Madagascar for close to a year now and African nations and donors say establishing a unity government is imperative for the international community to re-engage with the diplomatically-isolated Indian Ocean island.

Rajoelina will be offered the Ministry of the Economy and Industry and the Ministry of Armed Forces under the terms of the resolution, signed by former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy.

He will also be offered Justice and Communications if he agrees to select from a list of neutral names.

Ravalomanana, who quit power in a March coup, will take the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture. The exiled multi-millionaire has promised to play no direct role in the unity government.

“In light of the drama facing the Malagasy people, the heads of the parties present in Maputo hereby decide to immediately put in place all the institutions of the transitional authority,” read the resolution also signed by the lead mediator and former Mozambique president, Joaquim Chissano.

Tuesday’s resolution, the latest in a string of piecemeal agreements towards forming a consensus government, is not legally binding.

In a second signed statement, the opposition leaders pinned the blame for months of wrangling and political paralysis squarely on the shoulders of Rajoelina, a 35-year-old former disc jockey.

The crisis has rattled foreign investors, slowing activity in Madagascar’s oil and mineral sectors.

Analysts say Rajoelina is looking increasingly isolated and uncooperative after he rejected Chissano’s invitation to hold further crisis talks in Mozambique.

Africa’s youngest incumbent suggested a video conference instead and said the Maputo talks went against the spirit of earlier accords.

“The Rajoelina movement will not adhere to such a provocative course of action and does not and will not sanction it,” Rajoelina said in a statement late on Monday.

It was not immediately clear if the opposition would formally present Rajoelina with its proposals.

“I think this will just deepen the rift. The opposition is succeeding in presenting Rajoelina as the unreasonable one,” one Western diplomat said.

The European Union will announce soon whether it is to cancel frozen aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (Additional reporting by Alain Iloniaina and Richard Lough in Antananarivo; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dominic Evans)

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