Madagascar asks S.Africa for talks on ousted leader's return
Madagascar strongman Andry Rajoelina has requested talks with South Africa on the possible return of exiled leader Marc Ravalomanana, ousted in a 2009 coup, Pretoria said Wednesday.
"They've requested a bilateral engagement with South Africa to look at the modalities of the implementation of the SADC position when it comes to the return of the former president," South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister Marius Fransman told reporters.
Fransman had led a Southern African Development Community (SADC) team that brokered a deal signed Saturday by Madagascar's political parties in Antananarivo allowing Ravalomanana to return home from exile in South Africa.
Ravalomanana was sentenced to life imprisonment in his absence for the killing of protestors by his presidential guard during violent street demonstrations that led to his overthrow which plunged the country into political paralysis.
Rajoelina, who seized power after the army-backed coup, agreed to Ravalomanana's return following lengthy negotiations, but the former leader still risks being arrested and jailed.
"There was not a request made that they must come and arrest the former president in South Africa," Fransman said.
"We do have a note verbale requesting for a bilateral discussion" on how the former leader will be allowed back in Madagascar.
Ravalomanana's grouping and that of Albert Zafy, another former president, inked the deal on Saturday that had already been signed by eight other political groups in a bid resolve the island nation's protracted crisis.
However, the political movement of ex-president Didier Ratsiraka did not sign the pact.
The agreement had stuttered after an SADC summit in June called for the unconditional return of Ravalomanana, a move rejected by Rajoelina.
© 2011 AFP