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Madagascar must agree amnesty for Ravalomanana, says Sadc

media Former Madagascar leader Marc Ravalomanana speaks to journalists at the … Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Madagascar must agree new amnesty laws by the end of February to pave the way for the return of exiled former leader Marc Ravalomanana, the South African foreign affairs ministry said on Sunday. After a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in Cape Town, the regional bloc insists the country must adopt its road map to end its political stand-off.

“One of the key issues that is outstanding, which must be finalised before the end of this month, is the issue of amnesty laws,” South African foreign affair ministry spokesperson Clayson Monyela told RFI.

Sadc’s roadmap to new elections must be fully implemented, Monyela insists, while refusing to say what might happen if Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina does not comply.

“We can’t talk about consequences now,” says Monyela. “The minute you talk about consequences you’re already muddying the waters a little bit. So for now, what the Sadc leadership is doing is making an appeal."

Last month Ravalomanana tried to return to Madagascar from South Africa where he is exiled. But the flight carrying him had to return to Johannesburg after Madagascar’s airspace was closed to it.

Ravalomanana is wrong to try and return home without “outstanding” issues being addressed, Monyela says, adding that there needs to be a “conducive” atmosphere.

“You can’t have a situation where former exiled leaders return before these matters are addressed. Because then you have all sorts of threats,” he says.

Ravalomanana was ousted by disc jockey-turned-politician Rajoelina in 2009.

Ravalomanana was sentenced to life in prison and hard labour for the death of 30 opposition protesters killed by his presidential guard in February 2009.

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