Ousted president accuses France of backing coup
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Madagascar's former president, Marc Ravalomanana (pictured), has accused France of backing the island's transitional leader in his ouster, saying Madagascar is now run by "bandits" and that France seeks to recolonise the island nation.
AFP - Madagascar's former president Marc Ravalomanana has accused France of backing the island's transitional leader in his ouster, a claim that drew a swift denial Wednesday from the new man.
"Madagascar is currently run by a group of bandits with ill motives steered by Andry Rajoelina and backed by the French...," Ravalomanana said in comments aired by private Radio Fahazavana Tuesday.
"Their (the French) objective is to recolonise Madagascar and enslave Madagascans.
"They want to cause an ethnic war in our country. The French do not want any progress in Madagascar," he said in the local Malagasy language.
Rajoelina toppled his rival in March with the army's backing after a series of anti-government protests. He was then sworn in as the Indian Ocean island's transitional leader.
On Wednesday, he denied any links to French state support.
"I am not being manipulated by anyone, neither by the French, nor by other politicians," Rajoelina told AFP.
Talks to resolve the country's political crisis have suffered several setbacks although mediators announced Saturday that the Ravalomanana and Rajoelina camps had reached a tentative deal for presidential polls.
Ravalomanana has been in exile in South Africa since his ouster, which was termed a coup by the international community and earned the island a suspension from the African Union and other regional groupings.
Rajoelina said earlier Wednesday that the former president, against whom his regime has issued an arrest warrant, would not be allowed to return to the country.
"The Transitional High Authority (HAT) blocks the return of the former president to the country. The HAT will never sign an agreement regarding this," Rajoelina told reporters.
"We and the people want a renewal of the political class," he added.