Exiled Madagascar leader asks for help to return

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Madagascar's ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana has met with a regional mediator to discuss his predicament after being prevented from leaving South Africa, he said on Wednesday in a statement.
Ravalomanana, who has been in exile in South Africa since 2009, met former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, to ask for his support after authorities in Madagascar barred the deposed leader's return to the Indian Ocean island.

"I explained that I needed to go back to participate and promote the Malagasy-Malagasy talks which SADC (the southern African regional bloc) has recommended," Ravalomanana said in a statement.

"It is important for me to be there to negotiate with the genuine political parties so we can get together for genuine Malagasy-Malagasy talks."
The beleaguered leader was prevented from boarding a plane home Saturday after he had announced two days earlier that he would return to help bring democratic elections.

Accompanied by his wife, three sons, daughter and staff, Ravolomanana arrived at Johannesburg's OR Tambo airport before his scheduled flight, only to be told that he was not allowed to check in.

"Mr Ravolomanana Marc and company are non grata persons in Madagascar. So to preserve public order don't take them aboard," said a letter from aviation authorities in Antananarivo.

Ravalomanana was ousted in 2009 by Andry Rajoelina, the then-mayor of Antananarivo who is now head of the island's government. The country has been gripped by political tensions since, but Chissano and his mediation team have struggled to resolve the stalemate.

According to Ravalomanana's office the meeting with Chissano was "productive and progress was made".

A follow-up meeting was expected.

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