Madagascar: Ravalomanana to Return Home

Mbabane — Deposed Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana will return to the island state under the protection of the 13-member regional body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Ravalomanana told a media briefing on 15 April in the capital of Swaziland, Mbabane, that his return would kick-start a national dialogue with his successor, President Andry Rajoelina, in the hope of holding presidential elections by the end of 2009. He did not divulge the date of his return.

"I was forced to leave the presidency seat at gunpoint, but I am going back to Madagascar in peace. I am confident of SADC and the security they will give; I am confident things will be fine," Ravalomanana told the media.

"Only a few soldiers were used to oust me, but that does not mean the entire army is against me. Those who carried out the coup are criminals who used intimidation tactics to force the other soldiers to be part of their deeds," he said.

A coup by a few

Ravalomanana said only about 150 to 200 soldiers were involved in the coup, and that he was encouraged by a series of mass demonstrations against the coup in the capital, Antananarivo.

"I have been told that banks have been closed and that things are not fine. I hope the discussions we hope to hold with political parties will result in democracy prevailing, and the situation will calm down," he said.

"Our constitution may have to be amended to cater for another election this year - though this can be a complicated process - but there has to be democracy in Madagascar, not forced removal from power," Ravalomanana commented.

"We have to hold discussions with all political parties and civil society to create a power-sharing government until an election is held."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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