Talks ongoing despite war of words - Madagascan official
A Madagascan official said Saturday talks with the opposition are continuing and will produce "some results" next week despite the war of rhetoric during the parallel mass gatherings launched by the two rival groups.
"We are on the way to dialogue. It will surely produce some results next week," Francis, who is only identified by his family name and in charge of communication of the prime minister's office, told Xinhua by phone.
He was commenting on the latest speech of opposition leader Andry Rajoelina.
During a gathering at the May 13 square Saturday, the deposed mayor of Antananarivo declared that the "ministers" of his "government of transition" will start to take over their ministries on Monday.
"Each of them will be escorted by several guards to take over his ministry, in a peaceful way," Masimana Manantsoa, head of the interiorministry named by Rajoelina, told Xinhua by phone.
At the gathering, Rajoelina also announced the appointment of two "ministers" for his "transitional government."
In response, Francis said "the government no longer listens to or reacts to the speeches of Rajoelina."
"Never will there be any takeover of ministries. It would be a difficult operation," he said, reaffirming that the government always supports President Marc Ravalomanana.
Ravalomanana, meanwhile, on Saturday made his first public appearance since Feb. 7 when the guarding troops of the presidential palace opened fire at demonstrators.
During a gathering of his supporters at Mahamasina stadium, he announced that he is still the country's president and will restore social order and calm soon.
He called on the people to keep calm, condemned those who were sources of trouble and asked the people not to respond to provocation.
He also reaffirmed that Madagascar will host the African Union summit at the end of June.
The Madagascar press also carried reports of the continuation of talks between the two groups.
The talks between the two rival groups, hosted by the Council of the Madagascar Christian Church (FFKM) in the past days, made no progress, but representatives of both sides would continue their discussions, said local media l'Express, citing an FFKM source.
Rajoelina has insisted on his requests -- justice against Ravalomanana, establishment of a transitional government and early election.
He said Friday again that he agreed to talk but not with Ravolomanana.