Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 09:59 UK

Madagascar action 'not advisable'

Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana gives a speech in Antananarivo on 15 March 2009
Marc Ravalomanana was removed from power after street protests

The UN and France have warned against military intervention to resolve the political crisis in Madagascar.

The French foreign ministry and a UN envoy said they would prefer dialogue to any prospect of military action.

It comes after the regional trade bloc, Comesa, said such intervention must not be ruled out as an option to restore constitutional order in Madagascar.

The island has been politically isolated since President Marc Ravalomanana was ousted in March.

He lost power amid street protests led by military-backed opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who then took over.

Last year, African Union troops helped oust the renegade leader of the Comoran island of Anjouan after his year-long rebellion.

'Not right idea'

France, which has been accused by Mr Ravalomanana of backing Mr Rajoelina, said it far preferred dialogue under the auspices of the African Union to any prospect of a military intervention.

"We feel that military intervention is not the right idea," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said.

UN envoy Tiebile Drame said Comesa, a 19-member group of eastern and southern African nations, should focus its efforts on supporting the political process.

"This sort of statement does not help. We don't need this kind of declaration," Mr Drame told reporters in the Madagascan capital Antananarivo, where on-off crisis talks have been taking place.

Negotiations over the structure of an interim government to rule the world's fourth largest island up until the next presidential elections have stalled over the issue of amnesty

But the UN-backed talks have failed to reach any agreement on a consensus government to rule in Madagascar until presidential elections are held.

Last week, Mr Ravalomanana was sentenced in absentia to four years in jail for alleged abuse of office.

He has been in South Africa seeking international support for a return to the Indian Ocean island.

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