See also:
» 18.05.2010 - Madagascar rivals to meet in new talks
» 19.04.2010 - Coup attempt in Madagascar...?
» 15.04.2010 - Madagascar rivals resume dialogue
» 15.04.2010 - Madagascar coup leaders may face ICC prosecution
» 14.04.2010 - Military threat sparks Madagascar dialogue
» 08.04.2010 - Sacked Madagascar minister denies coup plot
» 25.01.2010 - AU back in Madagascar’s boiling waters
» 17.12.2009 - Rajoelina calls elections, tells mediators to back-off

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Politics | Society

Malagasy opposition leader grills West

afrol News, 20 October - The Constitutional High Court in Madagascar on Wednesday refused to honour the candidature of the country's exiled opposition leader, Pierrot Rajaonarivelo, to run for president in the 3 December elections. The court accepted the candidature of 14 other contestants, including the incumbent President Marc Ravalomanana.

But the exiled opposition leader took a swipe on the West, blaming them for not speaking against "tyranny and mistreatment" in Madagascar. He said the silence of the international community on the issue means they seem to be supporting the "tyrannical practices of President Ravalomanana."

The Antananarivo constitutional court had turned down Mr Rajaonarivelo's registration papers simply because he had not been present to sign them himself. His lawyers filed his registration papers on his behalf as the exiled opposition leader was barred from entering the country earlier this week.

The court also barred four other candidates from standing for not paying their required deposit.

Mr Rajaonarivelo was Vice Prime Minister under former President Didier Ratsirika. He is currently in Mauritius, from where he said his prevention from taking part was a clear sign that President Marc Ravalomana's regime invalidates the elections.

Mr Rajaonarivelo's efforts to return home to register his candidature were dashed by the police who closed the airport, tear gassed and arrested members of his AREMA party for launching a protest. He was seen as the potential main challenger of President Ravalomanana.

Alongside colleague cabinet members and ex-President Ratsiraka, the current AREMA-leader flew to France after a political stand-off that brought President Ravalomanana to power in 2002. Defending the widespread view that the elections were rigged, Mr Ravalomanana declared himself president, amid violent protest by Mr Ratsiraka's followers.

Mr Rajaonarivelo, who was convicted of misuse of funds in absentia, was threatened with arrest as soon as he returned home. He was sentenced to 15 years with hard labour and also banned from holding public office.

The famous opposition leader had earlier sent a message that he was coming home, where he asked President Ravalomanana not to panic.

"I am returning to the country tomorrow, Saturday 14October, but do not be afraid because my only weapon is my faith in freedom," he said, asking President Ravolomanana to be responsible because posterity would judge him by his actions.

"Our people want democracy and our long walk to freedom should be peaceful and if you stop me, it means you are stopping the freedom of the Malagasy people. The only solution that remains for you to do is to accept the democratic process," his open letter to the President said.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajaonarivelo, who has been stranded at the Mauritius since last week, has reportedly filed a suit against Air Mauritius for its failure to fly him to his country. Mr Rajaonarivelo wants the court to order the national carrier to take him home.

"My 14-day visa granted by the Mauritian authorities will soon expire. The fact that Air Mauritius refuses to let me on board will put me in an illegal situation in Mauritius," the anger-stricken opposition leader told the court.

Air Mauritius cited security reasons for not carrying the opposition leader but critics said it bowed down to pressure from the government of Madagascar.

According to 'Anglopress', the Malagasy opposition leader has used his time in Mauritius to meet several political figures. He has also asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam.

Madagascar is seen as the world's number one grower of vanilla but political instability has taken its toll on the country's economy. Poverty is also biting the citizens of Madagascar.

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