Rajoelina blasts ousted rival after talks

2012-08-10 07:49
Marc Ravalomanana. (AFP, File)

Marc Ravalomanana. (AFP, File)

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Antananarivo - Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina said on Thursday that his rival Marc Ravalomanana, whom he toppled with army support in 2009, must be kept "at all costs" from returning to power.

Rajoelina met Ravalomanana - who is now exiled in South Africa - in the Seychelles for half an hour on Wednesday without result, although the pair said discussions would continue in the future.

The Madagascan government has announced elections for next year in the large Indian Ocean island nation, but is opposed to Ravalomanana returning to contest the vote, arguing that a criminal conviction disqualifies him.

Rajoelina said after returning from the failed talks: "There must be no more bloodshed in Madagascar.

"When Mr Ravalomanana came to power in 2002, there were deaths all over the island. When he left power in 2009, there were deaths. Now, it's 2012 and he wants to return to power. At all costs, he must not return to power."

The president added about their talks: "Proposals were put forward, but Mr Ravalomanana did not agree. This man has not changed, and will never change."

Both men have agreed on 8 May as the date for next year's election, said Rajoelina, who added that he would stand aside if this was necessary for his country.

"Whatever the outcome of our meeting, elections must be held on May 8," he said. A second round is fixed for 3 July 2013, according to a timetable set out by Madagascar's electoral commission.

"If by not standing for election I can save the country, I will," said the president.

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community, which mediated the talks, has extended a deadline to August 16 for the rivals to settle their differences.

Ravalomanana was sentenced in absentia to a lifetime of hard labour after about 30 demonstrators were killed by his presidential guard in 2009 in the capital Antananarivo.

He has dismissed the conviction as the ruling of a kangaroo court.

The men have met twice in the Seychelles without reaching any type of rapprochement.

Read more on:    marc ravalomanana  |  andry rajoelina  |  madagascar  |  seychelles  |  southern africa
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