Madagascar's feuding leaders ended two days of talks Tuesday without signing a deal or announcing progress on resolving a crisis sparked by Andry Rajoelina's takeover of the island two years ago.
The talks between Rajoelina, ousted president Marc Ravalomanana and nine other political leaders were convened by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which had described the meeting as the last chance to reach agreement on a "road map" to new elections.
The rival leaders are bitterly divided over a SADC plan that would make Rajoelina president of a transitional government tasked with organising new elections and would allow Ravalomanana to return from exile in South Africa when the "political and security environment (is) favourable".
SADC leaders closed the talks with a press statement that sought to highlight common ground between the 11 political parties but did not say why they had failed to reach agreement on key issues.
The statement said all the parties agreed on "the return of the country to constitutional normalcy as a matter of urgency" and the "holding of free, fair, transparent and credible elections".
But there was no word on the return of Ravalomanana, who faces life in prison in Madagascar after being sentenced in absentia for the 2009 killing of demonstrators by his presidential guard during violent street protests that led to his overthrow.
SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao said he would take the issues raised to a SADC summit scheduled for Saturday.
He said he would make a recommendation to the regional bloc, which would then decide on a way forward.
"We are going to report to the summit with our clear recommendation. I cannot disclose for now (what it will be)," Salomao told AFP.
Zambian President Rupiah Banda, who convened the talks with SADC's current chairman, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, said the feuding leaders had reached agreement on "certain basics" such as the release of all political prisoners.
But he said there had been no agreement on Ravalomanana's return and that the leaders were still not close to signing a deal.
"From here we are going to report to the summit of all SADC this weekend, and then at that point we'll be able to say something more," he told AFP.
Madagascar has been suspended from both SADC and the AU since Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana in March 2009 with military backing. It has also lost 600 million euros ($878 million) a year in European Union aid suspended over the deadlock.
The two days of talks in the Botswanan capital, Gaborone, were the latest in a series of efforts to end the crisis.
But Rajoelina later dismissed the deal, sending mediators back to the drawing board.
Source: AFP Global Edition