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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 14:36 GMT
OAU chief in Madagascar
Opposition demonstration
The results have sparked huge protests
The secretary general of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Amara Essy, has held talks with Madagascar's President Didier Ratsiraka in an effort to help resolve the country's political crisis.

President Didier Ratsiraka
The president is campaigning for the second round

Mr Essy also met opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana to discuss the deadlock over last month's elections, but has been unable to bring the two men together.

But Mr Ravalomanana said he saw no point in attending the meeting given the president had refused to postpone the second round of the elections.

The opposition leader says he won December's first round of voting outright and accuses the government of falsifying results.

An opposition-led general strike has now entered its third week in protest at a high court ruling that presidential elections must go to a second round.

Mediation efforts

International mediation has so far made little headway in resolving the stalemate, but several initiatives are under way.

United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall is due in the capital Antananarivo on Monday evening.

Marc Ravalomanana (photo courtesy DMD/Midi)
Mr Ravalomanana says he won outright

According to the AFP news agency, Mauritian Foreign Minister Anil Gayan, acting for the Indian Ocean Commission, is expected on Tuesday.

On Saturday, independent monitors published evidence of serious irregularities during the first round of voting.

They recommended that the second round of voting be postponed until the results can be investigated further.

Over the last few weeks tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, demanding the resignation of the incumbent leader.

Despite the protests, President Ratsikraka began campaigning on Saturday in Antananarivo with only a handful of supporters.

Strike

The mass protests and general strike were suspended over the weekend but the opposition presidential candidate, Mr Ravalomanana has urged all government administrative workers to strike on Monday.

Meanwhile President Ratsiraka launched his campaign for the second round of voting. He is determined it will go ahead.

Tension is rising across the country with reports of clashes between rival supporters, and a roadblock believed to be run by pro-Ratsiraka demonstrators cutting off the capital from the country's main port and source of fuel and supplies.

See also:

09 Feb 02 | Africa
Madagascar vote 'rigged'
05 Feb 02 | Africa
'Ghost day' in Madagascar
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