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African Union acts against Madagascar's Andry Rajoelina

Andry Rajoelina, file image
Andry Rajoelina is Africa's youngest leader

The African Union has put sanctions on Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina, after he failed to meet a deadline to set up a unity government.

Mr Rajoelina and 108 of his backers will face travel restrictions and have any foreign assets frozen, the AU said.

The organisation wants to force Mr Rajoelina, a former DJ who seized power a year ago, back into negotiations.

For the past year, the country has been in turmoil with street protests by Mr Rajoelina's opponents and supporters.

"We believe that the sanctions are the way that will help the authorities to come back to the virtues of dialogue and negotiation," said AU security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra.

2009: A YEAR OF TURMOIL
January
Dozens killed in protests sparked after President Ravalomanana shuts opposition media groups
February
Opposition figurehead Andry Rajoelina sacked as mayor of Antananarivo
March
Army mutiny, Mr Ravalomanana resigns and flees country; Mr Rajoelina takes over, African Union suspends Madagascar
August
Power-sharing deal signed, later breached by Mr Rajoelina
October
New power-sharing deal, breached by Mr Rajoelina in December

"I hope they will have the effect of nurturing wisdom. No unilateral party is capable of solving the crisis by itself."

Former President Marc Ravalomanana, who was overthrown after weeks of violent protests last year, urged his successor to resume talks.

"I hope that these targeted sanctions will spur Andry Rajoelina into cooperating with the international community and that they serve as a wake-up call," said Mr Ravalomanana, who is in exile in South Africa.

But a member of Mr Rajoelina's government, Evariste Marson, told the AFP news agency that the sanctions would have "no effect".

In December, Mr Rajoelina abandoned a peace deal he had signed up to by unilaterally appointing a military prime minister.

The decision sparked violent protests outside the national assembly in the capital, Antanarivo.



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