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Ousted leader Ravalomanana 'willing to share power'

Latest update : 2009-04-16

Former President Marc Ravalomanana, living in exile in Swaziland, says he is determined to take part in October's election. Ravalomanana also said he would be willing to share power with rival Andry Rajoelina, who ousted him in March.

Reuters - Former Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana said on Wednesday he was determined to return home after being ousted at gunpoint and would be willing to share power with the country's new army-backed leader.

He told Reuters in an interview in Swaziland's capital that he would consider being part of a power-sharing administration with Andry Rajoelina, a 34-year-old former disc jockey, in the wider interest of the Indian Ocean island.

"I would like to create an open, democratic government with the participation of the civil society and other political parties ... Creating a consensus government," said Ravalomanana.

Rajoelina came to power last month when Ravalomanana stepped aside after intense pressure from the opposition and army chiefs in the Indian Ocean island.

Foreign leaders branded the transition a coup and have called for a quick election to restore constitutional order. Madagascar has been suspended from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Madagascar plans to hold a presidential election in October 2010 to restore democracy.

Despite widespread international condemnation, few donor countries have suspended development aid to Madagascar, where many eke out a living on less than $2 a day.

The political turmoil scared off tourists and unnerved foreign investors in the booming mining and oil exploration sectors.

Describing Madagascar's democracy as "very young and vulnerable", self-made dairy tycoon Ravalomanana said he handed over power "under gunpoint".

"All members of the government were in the same situation... They were threatened," he said.

Ravalomanana said what he described as a coup was plotted by a small part of the army, 150 or 200 people at most.

He was confident the AU and SADC would help him return to support.
"If the people of Madagascar accept the anticipation of presidential elections or a referendum, that's the most important thing," said Ravalomanana.

Date created : 2009-04-16