The Seychelles government has hosted a historical meeting on Madagascar, held on the secluded island of Desroches on Wednesday, July 25, which has brought together key regional stakeholders in order to boost efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis.
This meeting, hosted by Seychelles under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has, for the first time since the adoption of the roadmap on Madagascar, brought together the President of the Transition Authority, Andry Rajoelina, and Former President, Marc Ravalomanana.
“Having the two leaders meet for the first time this way is a breakthrough towards resolving this crisis, and we look forward to the follow-up meeting, in the run-up to the next SADC Summit, which will build on these discussions on Desroches Island,” said the host of the meeting, Seychelles President James Michel.
The meeting was chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma in his capacity as the current Chair of the SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defense and Security, and it included the participation of the SADC Secretary General, Dr. Tomaz Salomão; the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) Secretary General, Jean-Claude de l’Estrac; Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Marius Fransman; as well as representatives of Tanzania, the co-chairs of the Troika.
The Seychelles Foreign Minister, Jean-Paul Adam, as Chair of the IOC Council of Ministers, also participated in the negotiations and described the proceedings with the Malagasy political leadership as a “positive step forward in bringing an end to the ongoing crisis in our neighboring island of Madagascar.”
The two Malagasy leaders also met in a tete-a-tete with President Michel earlier this week, the first since the crisis began, to negotiate a solution to the impasse, during which the two also discussed the negative impact of the crisis on the Malagasy economy.
With regards to the implementation of the SADC Roadmap, Minister Adam said that the two leaders had: “displayed great conviction to act in the interests of the Malagasy people and find[ing] a durable solution to the crisis that has already lasted too long.
“What is evident from this meeting is that there is a clear willingness to bring a peaceful end to the crisis. The Seychelles government is hopeful that the gains made on Desroches will lead to a consensual agreement on the sticking points that have emerged from the SADC roadmap.
“We are pleased to have been able to provide an environment conducive for dialogue, which will contribute towards a peaceful Madagascar and a peaceful Indian Ocean. We are also proud that Seychelles has been able to share its experiences in nation building, through President Michel, to facilitate the process led by President Jacob Zuma.”
The Minister added: “The hosting of this meeting in Seychelles further underlines the importance that the IOC states place on returning Madagascar to constitutional normalcy, and in doing so, fully engaging the vast economic potential of the largest island of our region, for the benefit of all.
“Solving the political crisis in Madagascar is also about solving the bottlenecks of regional trade not least the high cost of trade and imports for our island economies,” the Minister said.
The Minister explained that the meeting concluded last night on a positive note, whereby the two Malagasy leaders have noted that while, significant issues remain to be addressed on Madagascar ahead of the forthcoming SADC Summit in Maputo in mid-August, this first meeting has underlined the urgency of the effort.
At the conclusion of the meeting, President Michel and President Zuma urged their counterparts from Madagascar to show true leadership for their people’s benefit and also urged that the two leaders must pursue an agreement in time to be presented at the SADC Summit. It was further agreed that a further meeting was required in the coming weeks to ensure that the momentum for a solution was maintained.
Seychelles is the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Commission and is member of SADC.