SADC steers Madagascar peace talks

SOUTHERN African leaders vowed yesterday to accelerate talks to resolve the Madagascar crisis, brushing aside calls by ousted president Marc Ravalomanana for possible military action.

Ravalomanana was toppled three months ago following street protests that saw opposition leader Andry Rajoelina take power with the army's blessing.

Ravalomanana, now living in exile in SA, has sought to rally support for his return to power, saying military options should be considered - a view shared by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Africa's largest trading bloc.

But the SADC insisted on a negotiated settlement at a summit on Saturday.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao urged all parties to cooperate with the SADC-driven peace talks.

President Jacob Zuma hosted the summit as the SADC chairperson with Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano co-ordinating mediation efforts.

After the summit, Ravalomanana vowed to work with Chissano. - Sapa-AFP