Conflict & Justice

Madagascar's Marc Ravalomanana pushes for election return


Madagascar's ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana addresses the press on Jan. 21, 2012, as he leaves O.R. Tambo international Airport in Johannesburg, after the island nation barred him from flying home to end his three-year exile.



Madagascar's ousted president, Marc Ravalomanana, has warned that elections cannot be held without his return from exile in South Africa.

Ravalomanana was speaking to Radio France Internationale (RFI) after President Andry Rajoelina, who ousted him in a coup d’etat in 2009, said he’d like fresh elections to be held soon.

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Rajoelina met with UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon in New York on Friday, and afterwards said he was ready for a political agreement with Ravalomanana, Agence France Presse reported.

He said he wanted Madagascar to “resume its place in the international community,” but did not commit to a deadline for the election, or to allowing Ravalomanana to participate.

Ravalomanana – who was convicted in absentia over the deaths of opposition demonstrators – told RFI he wanted "article 20" to be put in place, which recommends that all political exiles be allowed to return to Madagascar.

Speaking to journalists, Rajoelina said UN experts were in Madagascar to assess the country’s election, so that a date could be fixed.

Last September, the main Malagasy political factions signed a deal to set up a transitional government that would guide the country to elections.

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Meanwhile several people were arrested in the capital Antananarivo, after thousands turned out for an unauthorized opposition rally, AFP reported.

Police fired bullets into the air and used tear gas to break up the gathering, which was in support of opposition radio Free FM.

Two of the station's presenters were briefly detained earlier this month.