When the secretary general of the United Nations pays attention to a particular dispute, one can bet that the world is paying close attention as well.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has called for dialogue between the parties to a high-level dispute in Madagascar, as tensions continued to escalate and concern rose over divisions in the armed forces.

President Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital, Anatananarivo, declared last month that they are committed to starting a UN-facilitated dialogue to resolve their differences.

Nearly 100 people were killed and many more injured since January in violence that erupted amid their dispute.

Through a statement issued by his spokesperson last week, Mr. Ban reiterated that “the only solution to the current crisis is the resumption of dialogue and calls on both parties to fulfil their commitment to resolve their differences within the framework of an inclusive National Conference.”

Noting the concern over divisions within the armed forces, he welcomed the military’s decision to continue to respect Constitutional order, according to the statement.

“UN senior adviser, Mr. Tiébilé Dramé, remains engaged to help facilitate the talks and provide full UN support to the much needed national reconciliation process,” the statement affirmed.

Assistant secretary-general Haile Menkerios, who has also been dispatched to the Indian Ocean island nation twice, has said that the first installment of negotiations entailed the president and the mayor’s camps reaching agreement on how to stabilize the situation.

The next phase – drawing in an expanded group including representatives of other political parties, civil society, youth, women and others – would be geared towards tackling root causes, including “problems of governance on a wider scale – political, economic and social.”