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Page last updated at 23:18 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 00:18 UK

Crisis talks fail in Madagascar

By Jonny Hogg
BBC News, Antananarivo

Supporters of ousted President Marc Ravalomanana demonstrate in the capital Antananarivo, 28 March
Ravalomanana supporters have held numerous rallies

Supporters of the former President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, have pulled out of talks aimed at bringing an end to the ongoing political crisis.

Their senior spokesman accused the UN special envoy to the country, Tiebele Drame, of not fulfilling his role as an impartial mediator.

Another large demonstration has been held in the capital Antananarivo.

More than 10,000 people gathered to call for the return of Mr Ravalomanana, ousted in a military-backed takeover.

The senior spokesman for Mr Ravalomanana's supporters launched a scathing attack on the way the negotiations were being run by the UN envoy.

He accused Mr Drame of being partial, having his own agenda and attempting to impose his own solutions on the crisis.

He concluded that the talks were a waste of time.

For his part, Mr Drame denied the accusations and said mediation would continue.

UN protection

This is not the first time the UN's role in the crisis has been called into question.

Andry Rajoelina in Antananarivo on 21 March 2009
Andry Rajoelina has been defiant in the face of international criticism

The UN controversially helped protect Andry Rajoelina from arrest just weeks before he overthrew the government.

This development will be a blow to those who hoped that the talks would bring an end to the political crisis which continues to beset the country.

They had brought together representatives of Mr Rajoelina and also the country's three previous presidents, an indication of just how complex and longstanding the country's political grievances are.

Another major sticking point remains: the absence of Mr Ravalomanana.

Many of his supporters say they will not accept negotiations without him and enormous crowds have been gathering daily to call for his return.

However the new government says that if he does come back he will be arrested.



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