Ousted Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana will leave Johannesburg on Saturday, 19 February to return to his island home after two years in exile – a move which, he hopes, will lead to a peaceful, democratic transformation of government.
MARC Ravalomanana, the exiled president of Madagascar, used Johannesburg as the platform to announce his imminent return home to end the political stalemate in his island nation.
Marc Ravalomanana, exiled president of MadagascarMarc Ravalomanana, exiled president of MadagascarRavalomanana has lived in Johannesburg since he was overthrown in a coup by army-backed Andry Rajoelina in March 2009. “The illegal regime grabbed power in an unconstitutional manner,” Ravalomanana said at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday, 17 February.
“Declaring it an illegal coup is not based on my opinion, but is the official view of SADC [Southern African Development Community] and the AU [African Union].” The two bodies have suspended the new regime from their activities and imposed sanctions on Madagascar.
Other nations and organisations have also condemned Rajoelina’s leadership. “The US, the European Union and the entire international community refused to recognise the regime and suspended all forms of contact and assistance,” he said.
In 2010 Ravalomanana was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for the deaths of 30 protestors killed by the presidential guard, but this was nullified by the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Numerous attempts at mediation by SADC have been sabotaged by Rajoelina, whose regime is involved in a propaganda campaign to make it appear he came into power legally, but “it cannot legitimise itself”, Ravalomanana said.
These were the prime reasons Ravalomanana decided to end his exile and return to Madagascar, despite the dangers involved in his going back. There is a likelihood he will be arrested as soon as he steps off the plane, but he maintained it was time for him to go home. “I have nothing to fear; I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
“The desire for freedom burns in my heart. Our dream of freedom cannot be put off any longer.”
He hopes his homecoming will encourage talks that will enable a legitimate government to be reinstated.
“We will need assistance and support from all the international bodies, SADC, the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States – indeed from the whole world – as we strive to return democracy to Madagascar.”
However, there is one thing that he considers even more important than help from the global community. “What is desperately needed is a genuine Malgacho-Malgache dialogue. This is where we must start.
“Malagasy society, everybody from the four political movements, all political parties, the churches and all of civil society must get together to define a solution for ourselves.”
His biggest hope is that this solution will be “peaceful, lasting and prosperous”.
Ravalomanana will leave Johannesburg for Madagascar on Saturday, 19 February.
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