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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Madagascar peace deal 'very fragile'
Incumbent president Didier Ratsiraka (l) and his rival Marc Ravalomanana exchange documents
There are disagreements over the details of the plan
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Alastair Leithead
By Alastair Leithead
BBC correspondent in Antananarivo

Madagascar's new peace agreement aimed at settling the four-month-long political crisis is "very fragile", according to the Organisation of African Unity, which helped to broker the deal.

The OAU's Secretary General, Amara Essy, is reportedly sending an envoy to help oversee the Dakar accord which proposes a referendum and a transitional government if a recount of the disputed December presidential elections is inconclusive.

Veteran leader Didier Ratsiraka
Mr Ratsiraka's supporters are continuing to cut off the capital
Already there are disagreements in Madagascar over the detail of the plan and as yet there is no sign of any of the promises being turned into practical action.

It will come as little surprise to the Malagasy people that the deal hailed as bringing a solution to their country's crisis is considered fragile by one of the key men involved in its conception.

Although their promises are full of compromise and concession from both sides, there is still no detail as to how they will be implemented in the country.

Last card

The key concern is the blockade, manned by supporters of the incumbent President, Didier Ratsiraka, which has cut off the capital Antananarivo from the main port and oil refinery for months now, crippling the economy and isolating the city.

The deal that both presidents signed states that blockades must be lifted.

But there is no sign of this happening, and there is speculation that defences are being reinforced rather than being reduced.

Self-declared President Marc Ravalomanana says he is confident the routes will be opened up again soon.

But few are optimistic, as the blockade is seen as the last card his rival Mr Ratsiraka has left to play in a crisis increasingly going against him.

According to the OAU, neither of the two parties was fully satisfied with the agreement signed in Senegal, and there is even confusion over who is in charge of the country in the period leading up to a recount.

See also:

20 Apr 02 | Africa
Annan backs Madagascar deal
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar cautious on peace deal
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar's flawed accord
18 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar rivals sign peace deal
17 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar court annuls election
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