August 12, 2010 / 6:09 AM / 9 years ago

Madagascar govt, minor parties agree new poll dates

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar’s government has agreed new election dates with minor political parties, but without the three main opposition parties the latest bid to end a dragging political crisis could fail.

The Indian Ocean island has been mired in political turmoil since President Andry Rajoelina unseated former leader Marc Ravalomanana with military backing, stunting economic growth as donors froze aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rajoelina’s interim government is holding talks with scores of minor political parties aimed at producing a new roadmap to restoring constitutional order in the world’s largest vanilla producer.

However, the three main opposition parties are boycotting the discussions and analysts say a resolution of the political standoff is unlikely without their active participation.

“We have agreed on organising presidential elections for July 1, 2011. Legislative elections ought to take place on April 13 in the same year,” local mediator Benjamina Ramanantsoa told Reuters late on Tuesday night.

A referendum on a new constitution, originally slated for this month but postponed back in June because the new basic law had not been completed, will take place on November 17.

The opposition leaders have said they will only contest elections that are organised by all key parties and not unilaterally by Rajoelina’s administration.

International mediators brokered a string of power-sharing deals between Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and two other former presidents last year, but they all collapsed after the bitter rivals failed to agree on how to share out the top posts.

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