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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rajoelina Says Ravalomanana Calling for Mercenaries in Madagascar

PARIS (Reuters) - Madagascar's president said in comments published Tuesday the man he ousted as the country's leader was planning a coup in a bid to come back to power.

Andry Rajoelina, 35, came to power in March when President Marc Ravalomanana stepped aside after pressure from the opposition and army chiefs.

Ravalomanana, who fled to southern Africa, insists he remains the legitimate leader of the Indian Ocean island and has rejected sharing power with Rajoelina.

"Today there are people who are thirsty for power," Rajoelina told French RFI radio in an interview recorded on Friday. RFI released written excerpts of the interview, which is due to be broadcast Thursday.

"There are people who are even ready to come and retake power with mercenaries. Everyone is talking about it. And that is what Mr Ravalomanana is doing," Rajoelina said.

Southern African leaders suspended Madagascar from the Southern African Development Community in March, saying they would not recognize Rajoelina, who took power in a move condemned as a coup by the international community.

Former president Ravalomanana was sentenced in absentia this month to four years in jail and a $70 million fine for abuse of office in buying a presidential jet. He has rejected the ruling.
"He (Ravalomanana) is making telephone calls, calling his supporters ... and telling them that he will soon be back, with soldiers, that he will soon retake power," said Rajoelina, who last month refused to allow Ravalomanana to return from exile..

"What is really upsetting in all this is that he is ready to retake power even if it causes civil war in Madagascar," he added.

The African economic bloc COMESA said earlier this month a military intervention to restore constitutional order on the island could be an option but SADC said it would insist on a peaceful solution to the situation.

Internationally mediated talks between the island's feuding leaders aimed at creating a consensus government collapsed a week ago, and the SADC has said it will speed up its efforts to help restore political order.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Matthew Jones)

The Rest @ Reuters

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