Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ousted President Ravalomanana 'Shocked' by Barring From Madagascar

Ravalomanana ‘shocked’ by barring

February 19 2011 at 05:11pm

Madagascar's deposed president Marc Ravalomanana.

Madagascar - Former Malagasy president Marc Ravalomanana lashed out at his country's government on Saturday for declaring him “persona non grata” and refusing to let him return home.

Ravalomanana was prevented from leaving South Africa Saturday after an airline refused to give him a boarding pass citing a letter from the Madagascan civil aviation authority.

“I am shocked and disappointed to have been turned away by the illegal regime this morning,” Ravalomanana said in a statement to the media in Sandton on Saturday afternoon.

“This is an abuse of power by the illegal regime in Madagascar and proof of their persistent unilateral decisions to refuse me entry into my own country.”

Ravalomanana was turned away from boarding the flight by a letter from the Madagascan Civil Aviation Authority that stated that the aircraft would not be given permission to land in Antananarivo with the president on board.

“I am doing what the Malagasy people want me to do Ä to go back to Madagascar to start Malagasy-to-Malagasy dialogue in order to restore peace to my beloved Madagascar.

“I know there are hundreds of thousands of supporters at the airport in Antananarivo awaiting my return today.

“These people are not only my supporters, but from all sectors of civil society.

“I am sure they share my frustration and disappointment in not being allowed to return.”

Ravalomanana said he was returning to Madagascar “for peace, not war”.

“The Malagasy people need me. Madagascar needs democracy. Madagascar needs freedom,” he said.

“I will find a way to get back to Madagascar. My staff are working on every alternative means of getting me back to my country.”

The French news agency AFP reported that Ravolomanana was accompanied by his wife, three sons, daughter and his staff.

The agency said that thousands of Ravalomanana supporters had already converged on the Ivato airport, a few miles from the capital Antananarivo on Saturday morning.

Ravalomanana has been in exile in South Africa since being ousted in a 2009 military-backed take-over led by Andry Rajoelina, a former disc jockey and mayor of Antananarivo.

Rajoelina, who has rejected attempts by South Africa and other neighbours to mediate in the crisis, has refused to allow Ravalomanana to return to the country.

Ravalomanana, who has spent two years in exile mainly in South Africa, said, stills believes he is still the island's rightful leader.

The 61-year-old self-made millionaire was last year sentenced to life in prison and hard labour for the death of 30 opposition protesters killed by presidential guards as they attempted to march on the presidential palace in February 2009. - Sapa

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