EU set to pounce on RAJOELINA

ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's diplomatically isolated leader risks sanctions and the possible cancellation of critical foreign aid if he sticks to his hardline stance on how to end his country's year-long political crisis.

ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's diplomatically isolated leader risks sanctions and the possible cancellation of critical foreign aid if he sticks to his hardline stance on how to end his country's year-long political crisis.

Foreign diplomats warn that the Indian Ocean island could become a pariah state if Andry Rajoelina fails to compromise on a road map for holding elections that appeases opposition leaders, regional neighbours and donor nations.

There are signs that th former DJ is slowly leaning towards moderates within his administration, who argue that he needs international support and stability to reboot the stagnant economy and soothe the fears of investors.

"In my view, Rajoelina has begun to change his position, but he has not done enough to convince the international community that he is behind a consensual and inclusive solution," said Guy Ratrimoarivony of the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Antananarivo.

In an effort to persuade the European Union and African Union that he is serious about accommodating his political rivals, Rajoelina told French parliamentarians in Paris last week that he planned to create an opposition-filled body to check the executive's power ahead of an eventual ballot.

Both bodies will discuss possible sanctions soon.

The AU's chairperson, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, wants the pan-African body to "declare war" on unconstitutional changes of government, and is expected to increase the pressure on Rajoelina.

"But, as for sanctions, we are not sure. There are figures in the AU pushing for sanctions, but others want a softer approach," one diplomat said. - Reuters

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