Ravalomanana returns to SA

2012-01-21 17:03

Johannesburg - The commercial plane carrying Madagascar's toppled president Marc Ravalomanana has returned to Johannesburg, after his attempt to end his exile in South Africa was thwarted in the air when his plane was forced to turn back.

Authorities from the Indian Ocean island closed their airspace to prevent his return.

The commercial plane carrying Marc Ravalomanana landed back in Johannesburg just after 14:00, about the time it had been expected to reach Madagascar's capital.

Reporters on board said it did not stop to refuel in Mozambique, as Peter Mann, a spokesperson for Ravalomanana, had said airline officials initially planned to do.

Ravalomanana has been exiled in South Africa since being toppled in 2009. When he tried to return last year, he was stopped in Johannesburg after aviation authorities in Madagascar wrote to say he was not welcome.

Supporters waiting

In Madagascar, where thousands of Ravalomanana supporters had awaited him at the capital's airport, a government minister told reporters that the populist former disc jockey who toppled Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina, had issued a notice closing the country's main airports to prevent the former leader's return.

Earlier on Saturday, Ravalomanana, his wife, two aides, journalists and passengers not linked to him had boarded a commercial flight operated by South African Airlink, a regional partner of South African Airways, in Johannesburg. Ravalomanana said he wanted to return to work for peace and democracy in his troubled homeland.

Saturday's events illustrate how far Madagascar has to go to return to stability, and are just one a series of setbacks that have frustrated mediators despite signs of progress.

Security officials in Madagascar had said the toppled president would be arrested if he returned. Ravalomanana said arresting him would be unlawful and would destabilise Madagascar at a delicate time in efforts to restore democracy.

Following Rajoelina's military-backed coup, Ravalomanana was convicted in absentia of conspiracy to commit murder in a case related to the turmoil during the overthrow that forced him to leave. Ravalomanana called the tribunal appointed by Rajoelina illegitimate.

Political maturity

Late Friday, South African deputy foreign minister Marius Fransman, who has led regional efforts to restore democracy in Madagascar, issued what could be read as a warning to Ravalomanana not to return, or to Rajoelina not to seek his rival's arrest.

Fransman noted "the current contextual challenges relating to the political situation in Madagascar," but did not elaborate. Then he said he was calling "on all the political formulations and the political leadership, in particular ... Mr. Andry Rajoelina and former President Mr. Marc Ravalomanana to exercise political maturity."

Asked at the Johannesburg airport about Fransman's comments, Ravalomanana said, "We are mature".

Ravalomanana has accepted a plan negotiated by Fransman that calls for elections next year overseen by a unity government. The unity government is in place, with Rajoelina as its president, but members are bickering over how positions were filled.

On Friday, Ravalomanana told reporters he would work with anyone, including Rajoelina, to "build a new Madagascar." But he acknowledged Rajoelina has rebuffed his overtures.

  • david.streicher - 2012-01-21 17:11

    smile and wave.

      Melanie Purge - 2012-01-21 17:20

      il send skippy-d penguin 2 check if airspace is open

      Fanie Verwey - 2012-01-21 17:56

      Hallo ... Can anyone tell me why SA has to host all these ousted retards that get kicked out by their own people?

      Sithando - 2012-01-21 18:07

      Fani,you are so funny,are you for real? We are Africans you know,we have an inborn soft spot for humanity UBUNTU.But I do not blame you, that is how you were brought up and everything you know, 'to be selfish and self centred'.

      Gerald - 2012-01-21 19:19

      dear Rob, Clearly the very education that is amiss amongst 'our African brothers' that has taught you 'right from wrong' has failed somewhat to teach you notions of respect and the common good of all men, has failed to dull that racist bone in you, and clearly failed to teach you to rise above situations with grace and dignity, but then again your pic is most telling.

      John - 2012-01-21 20:00

      SA Zuma and Fransman are not showing any maturity either, Andry Rajoelina was supposed to be ARRESTED in South Africa, by order of the African Union. But he was invited by the ANC, came over, and went back. Fanie, After Aristides, Mengistu, and who knows who else, your reaction is normal. But in this case Marc Ravalomanana is the good guy. That is why the ANC is not supporting him.

      Gerald - 2012-01-21 21:26

      now dear educated Rob 99% of the women in Africa, not only South Africa, would fear to their lives if placed among a bunch of African men... What study was done to come to this magic number 99%? you see, I am not as well read or educated as you, and certainly my punctuation is even less exacting to your mighty high command of the English language, but do spare an integrity challenged African a link or two, to the research that supports this, so he may acquiesce himself to his fallacies. Side note: how many women are there in Africa?

      Gerald - 2012-01-21 22:08

      Dear Rob... Gardenboy talk I assume is what the person who tends to your garden speaks. I also assume you having integrity and all this said person isn't a child because it is illegal to employ children, therefore this person you refer to as a boy is actually a grown human being. And also by extension 'gardenboy' vocab cannot include those words because of their limited intellectual capacity. You also state that I am stealing the madam's internet, I also assume that I am in this generous madam's employ and since I cannot afford my own internet I have to resort to "stealing" it to vilify your otherwise intelligent comment. You also refer me, quite graciously may I add, to a website whose content, though very unfortunate, does not reveal the body of work that led to your illustrious conclusions. But alas you did say I was to try 'something nice and easy'. How about we skip to the core of my objection with your original comment and see if you can validate that comment you made in your moment of pure superior intellect

  • Comrade - 2012-01-21 17:20

    Zuma's still waiting for the $$ briefcase! $$

  • Anthony - 2012-01-21 17:26

    The other passengers on this flight, must be pretty p.ssed of with this guy!!!!!

      Craig - 2012-01-21 19:31

      Hmmm... do you think he cares about other passangers? He has his own people shot if they dont agree with him. But hey, he is JZ's bud so we must welcome him back and say " Bad Madagascar..." tsk tsk...

  • Hermann - 2012-01-21 17:27

    No wonder Madagascar is sliding back wards - the false tune of a disk jocky called Andry Rajoelina. He tasted the tune of power and he is not going to spit the taste out - wait for the Arab spring to reach Antananarivo and then hear his tune.

  • Sinudeity - 2012-01-21 17:33

    We dont want him.

      kthage - 2012-01-21 19:07

      Speak for yourself, who is we?

  • Marius - 2012-01-21 18:02

    Please go and exile in another country. Or use a boat next time.

      kthage - 2012-01-21 19:10

      We are Africans Mnr. Swapie, we know where we come from, our leaders were also exiled and given home by our friendly neighbours, we are not going to our backs on them. President Ravalomanana was elected by his own people in a democratic process and outed my a military lead coup.

      Sinudeity - 2012-01-21 19:23

      kthage - Dude... Ravalomanana forced the military to shoot on his own people. The military then refused to take any further orders from him. He should rather move to Zimbabwe, he will fit in nicely there.

      John - 2012-01-21 20:06

      Swapie, As you might remember we - RSA - were involved in an African wide war against the Soviets and their buddies Machel, Neto, Mugabe, Nyerere, Mbeki and Zuma. Ravalomanana is NOT part of the machine gunner evil communist squad. Know your enemy - remember? Automatically means know your friends, too. Like Savimbi; like Ravalomanana.

      kthage - 2012-01-22 01:27

      @Sinudeity, No he never forced the military to shoot at his people. 80 people died before the shoot out because of un-peaceful demonstrations lead by Rajoelina including 25 people who died looting at a shop. The Palace Guards, not the military fired at the protesters after crossing a red barrier line implemented across all countries around the world. Even the Whitehouse has a barrier line whereby the guards will fire at anyone who bridges it, the same goes for the Kremlin and others. Rajoelina was alaready an influential opposition, he had the sympathy of the millitary, even before the shoot out he was already picking his transitional ministry, I am sure Ravalomanana did not order or authorize the shoot out, what mattered was the outcome, because he would be blamed anyway. Almost all western countries condemned the coup, maybe they know something that you don't

      Sinudeity - 2012-01-22 02:22

      kthage - Why do Africans support dictators? The dude dissolved his parliament, because it 'no longer reflected national representation'. In a country full of abject poverty, your hero gave plenty of farmland to South Korea. The dude is a 'totalitarian authoritarian' and failed to bring his country out of poverty. He did everything he could to prevent the opposition from electioneering in any way. Even killing opposition party members. Do looters deserve death? You seem to think so. "Almost all western countries condemned the coup, maybe they know something that you don't" Clearly Im the only one who thinks that Madagascar can do better than the two blood thirsty politicians that are currently fighting for power. Ravalomanana almost served out his term anyways. Whats the point of returning only to serve out two more years? Oh wait, dictator.

      kthage - 2012-01-22 02:43

      @Sinudeity, The point of returning is because it is his home country, he is not a dictator. Imagine if you could not return to your own home country

      Sinudeity - 2012-01-22 02:56

      kthage - If the entire mission, was merely to return home, then there is no problem. Even with the arrest-warrants that Rajoelina issues against him. But, he will resume a political career again. Its inevitable.

  • sandy.langenstrass - 2012-01-21 18:27

    He must go home.... hope he is not living off S.A taxpayers money.forget ubuntu( most don't practise, what with hijacking and murdering farmers ect.... we have enough of our own problems don't need others problems as well...that is not ubuntu..that is plain stupid to harbour ex presidents ( usually criminals anyway )

  • Craig - 2012-01-21 19:26

    Welcome back. The taxpayer will again foot your bill for the next however many years as a exile guest of JZ.

  • haja.randrianarisoa - 2012-01-21 20:45

    This is really sad. What a pity that the UN doesn't do anything about it. This is a crime because millions of people suffered over 3 years and will suffer even more. Please help us. We are quiet, we don't do civil war but inside we suffered deeply.

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