Southern African leaders were Monday expected to suspend Madagascar from the SADC regional grouping, after its president was forced from office earlier this month.

Heads of state at a summit in Swaziland were also reviewing an $8.5 billion economic recovery plan Zimbabwe presented at the meeting, and agreed to urge Western states to end sanctions on the country.

Madagascar's former President Marc Ravalomanana, who resigned under pressure from the military when they backed his rival Andry Rajoelina, briefed SADC leaders on the country's political crisis.

Sunday, delegates at a foreign ministers' meeting, which was to make proposals to the leaders' summit, suggested Madagascar could be suspended from SADC and urged early elections.

The SADC stance could further isolate former disc jockey Rajoelina, who assumed power in a move condemned as a coup by the international community.

The first issue is the crisis in the Republic of Madagascar, following the unfortunate forced removal from office of President Marc Ravalomanana and dissolution of his government, said Swazi King Mswati III, opening the summit.


This unconstitutional takeover of power by the de facto regime in Madagascar violates the basic principles, protocols and treaties of SADC and is therefore not acceptable.

The African Union suspended the Indian Ocean island on March 20, giving the new administration six months to call an election as provided for by the constitution. Rajoelina has set a 24-month transition.

Also under discussion Monday was building support for Zimbabwe's recovery from an economic crisis that has seen the world's worst hyperinflation, unemployment at around 90 percent and severe shortages of basic goods.

Zimbabwe's Industry and Trade Minister Welshman Ncube said his country told the summit it needed $8.5 billion under an economic recovery plan over the next two to three years, with $1 billion for budget support and a $1 billion credit line.

We don't expect that SADC will be able to do that, but that is what is required to resuscitate the economy, South African Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told Reuters.

South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said SADC countries were expected to report back in two weeks on how they can support Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai previously said as much as $5 billion was needed to rebuild the economy.

The plan will look at requirements including rebuilding infrastructure and the education and health sectors, said Nene.

(Writing by Michael Georgy, editing by Mark Trevelyan)