Exiled leader’s ‘stunt’ fails

2012-01-21 20:23

Former Madagascar president Marc Ravalomanana made a dramatic return to South Africa yesterday after another failed attempt to head home after almost two years in exile.

In what South African officials are calling a “stunt”, Ravalomanana decided to head back to the Malagasy capital of Antananarivo of his own volition, but the SA Airlink plane was not allowed to enter Malagasy airspace.

He made a similar failed attempt last year. South African government officials insist the environment is still not conducive for him to
return home.

Democratically elected Ravalomanana was deposed in a military coup by former DJ Andry Rajoelina and fled to South Africa in 2009.

South African officials were at pains yesterday to explain that his return was not a directive from South Africa or the Southern African Development Community.

Senior officials said they were prepared for his refusal of entry in Madagascar because “everything is not yet in place to ensure his proper return”.

Said one: “We didn’t need this, he knows he should not do this. This is not the way he should go back, on an Airlink flight. When the time is right we will make sure he goes back in a fit and proper manner.”

A sulky Ravalomanana refused to leave the SA Airlink airplane when it landed back at OR Tambo International Airport at about 2pm and had to be coaxed by President Jacob Zuma to leave the plane.

“The president basically told him to calm down,” an official said.

Ravalomanana’s spokesperson, Patrick Gearing, told Sapa: “Ravalomanana is very frustrated and upset because everything was supposed to be in place for him to return home.

“He is in discussions with President Zuma and Deputy Minister of International Relations Marius Fransman.”

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