The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

28 January 2012

Madagascar: Amnesty Sought for Exiled Ex-President

Photo: Fanalana_azy/Flickr
Protests (file photo): South Africa, as a signatory of the International Criminal Court, is investigating Madagascar's former president Marc Ravalomanana for crimes against humanity after peaceful protests became a bloodbath.

Antananarivo — Exiled former Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana could be pardoned, the island nation's Prime Minister said on return from crisis talks held in South Africa.

The country's transitional parliament is expected to vote on a general amnesty law by February 29 and Mr Ravalomanana could be a key beneficiary if it is passed.

The pardon would allow the former president, who resides in South Africa, to return home as part of a road map that prescribes elections this year, following a crippling two-year political stalemate following a 2009 army-backed coup that ousted him from power.

Mr Ravalomanana was sentenced to life in prison and hard labour for the death of 30 opposition protesters allegedly killed by his presidential guard in 2009 during the street protests that led to his ouster.

Prime minister Jean-Omer Berizky, a consensual choice for the opposing parties, said the success of the road map signed in September in Antananarivo depended on an agreed pardon.

"The signing was done, there was collective agreement. Each signatory must respect his engagement," said Mr Berizky after attending the Pretoria talks in the wake of an abortive attempt by Mr Ravalomanana to return to Madagascar.

Mr Ravalomanana's return has been a major obstacle in attempts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate the crisis.

His plane was blocked from landing in Madagascar and turned mid-air allegedly on orders from interim President Andriy Rajoelina who took over after the coup.

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