Sunday, May 29, 2022

Madagascar conflict brings SADC leaders to Botswana

Leaders from the Southern African Development Community jetted into Botswana this week for a two-day summit to attempt to resolve the Madagascar conflict, amid stalled negotiations between government and striking public servants.

The Telegraph is informed that President Khama met with the SADC delegation on Monday.

Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay confirmed that former Mozambican President Joaquin Chissano, Zambian President Rupiah Banda and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba arrived in Botswana on Monday to meet with key players in the Madagascar conflict.

Representatives of Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina and his rival Marc Ravalomanana were also expected to attend the meeting. It would also include representatives from Madagascar’s eleven political parties.

The SADC resolved at its extraordinary summit in Namibia that a meeting on Madagascar should be held in Gaborone. Interestingly, there was no communiqu├® from the Office of the President or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ramsay said it was not the responsibility of government, and further referred enquiries to the Foreign Affairs, which also pointed the finger at the SADC secretariat.
Opposition leaders read malice into government’s secrecy, and accused the Khama administration of deliberately instituting a media blackout on the visit.

“They knew that striking public servants would expose their sores to the international community, and they brought in such high profile visitors in the cover of darkness,” said Botswana Congress Party Secretary General Kesitegile Gobotswang.

He questioned Botswana’s credibility to host such a high profile mediation event, given that, “Botswana is herself a sick nation”.

He also welcomed the SADC’s decision to bring the meeting to Botswana as a strange twist of fate that will make Foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani and President Khama eat humble pie.

“Remember how they insulted Rajoelina and called him a DJ? How then can they expect him to accept any outcome of a mediation in which they partake? He comes here as a sitting President, and the Khama administration now has egg on their face because they called him names,” said Gobotswang.
BCP Publicity Secretary Taolo Lucas said the media blackout on the visit is typical of the secretive Khama administration.

Others have also said government would not want a repeat of the recent visit by Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, which was boycotted by the opposition.

The mediation meeting is expected to end Madagascar’s two year feud and set the country on a roadmap to democratic elections. However Ravalomanana has rubbished a recent recommendation, which allowed him to return to Madagascar when it is politically favourable, and tasked Rajoelina to head the transitional government.

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