Madagascar leader 'will go home'

Ousted president Marc Ravalomanana speaks exclusively to Al Jazeera.

    Ravalomanana called on investors to boycott Madagascar while his rival remains in power

    He said: "I'm confident we'll go back because I know the citizens in Madagascar right now and they need some leader. I'm the president - elected democratically."

    President ousted

    Months of protests at the beginning of the year led to Ravalomanana, democratically elected in 2002, being challenged and eventually ousted by Andry Rajoelina, a former mayor of Antananarivo, the capital.

    In Video

    Watch Al Jazeera's interview with Marc Ravalomanana

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    Where the "force" to reinstate Ravalomanana would come from is a matter for debate as much of Madagascar's military appears to have sided with Rajoelina.

    Parts of the army mutinied in March, allegedly angry at being called on by the government to crack down on civilians.

    Later, when Ravalomanana handed control to the military on March 17 - by which time opposition supporters had besieged his palace - they in turn handed the reins of power to Rajoelina.

    But Ravalomanana insists that he retains some support from the army.

    "Right now, not all the military [support Rajoelina] - there are some loyal military that support me. They are good, but they are threatened by this group of senior officials," he told Al Jazeera.

    Violent protests

    Rajoelina and Ravalomanana came to loggerheads in December 2008, when the government shut down Rajoelina's TV station, Viva TV, after it broadcast an interview with Didier Ratsiraka, Madagascar's exiled former president.

    In depth


     Timeline: Madagascar crisis
     Profile: Marc Ravalomanana
     Profile: Andry Rajoelina 

    Rajoelina, who quickly became Madagascar's main opposition figure, headed anti-government demonstrations in January, which turned violent with shops looted and set on fire.

    In the following days, the burnt bodies of 37 people were found in the wreckage.

    Rajoelina accused Ravalomanana's government of misusing state funds and, in a country where the majority of the population live on less than $1 a day, thousands rallied to hear him speak.

    The crisis escalated further in February when police opened fire on protesters, killing at least 28 people.

    More died in later clashes and, faced with increasing street protests, Ravalomanana resigned the presidency in March.

    Political isolation

    In Madagascar, Rajoelina has himself faced street protests from Ravalomanana's supporters and his administration has found little support internationally.

    The African Union suspended Madagascar as a member and gave Rajoelina's administration until October to hold elections.

    Coup leader Rajoelina has found little
    support internationally [AFP]
    Some European nations have stopped their aid payments to the country and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has refused to recognise Rajoelina as Madagascar's president.

    The development body includes Madagascar as a member, but the decision was made by Sadc's political and security "troika", made up of Mozambique, Angola and Swaziland, where Ravalomanana sought sanctuary.

    In his interview with Al Jazeera, Ravalomanana called for investors to boycott the island nation while Rajoelina remains in power.

    "It's not a good time for investors to come to Madagascar. We need investors, but not at this time," he said.

    "This government is illegal."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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