BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: World: Africa  
News Front Page
World
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent
-------------
Letter From America
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 14 June, 2002, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Embattled Ratsiraka arrives in France
Pro-Ravalomanana soldier checking papers in Sambava
Rival soldiers are advancing into pro-Ratsiraka areas
Madagascar's former President Didier Ratsiraka has arrived in France aboard a plane provided by the French Government.

As he departed with his wife and daughter, Mr Ratsiraka said he was not leaving Madagascar for good, but was going to Paris to seek a solution to the six-month power struggle with his rival, Marc Ravalomanana.

For the past five months, Madagascar has been split between Mr Ravalomanana's supporters based in the capital, Antananarivo, and those backing Mr Ratsiraka who control coastal areas.


I'm going to work in search of the best thing for the Malagasy people and I will come back

Didier Ratsiraka

French officials said no meetings with Mr Ratsiraka have been planned, and called for a "rapid and peaceful" solution to the presidential power struggle

"I'm going to work in search of the best thing for the Malagasy people and I will come back," insisted Mr Ratsiraka at the airport, according to his aides quoted by AFP news agency.

But his departure comes as military forces loyal to Mr Ravalomanana are gaining ground against his troops.

In one of Mr Ratsiraka's former strongholds, the north-western port town of Mahajanga, soldiers have allowed Mr Ravalomanana's supporters to march through barricades unhindered.

The BBC's Jonny Donovan in the capital, Antananarivo says that it seems Mr Ravalomanana is fast gaining the upper hand and it is now only a matter of time before the old regime desintegrates entirely.

Blockade ends

Mr Ravalomanana is reported to have said on national radio that barricades erected around the capital - his stronghold - have been removed.

Mr Ratsiraka's supporters imposed the crippling economic blockade on the capital more than three months ago.

The problems began back in December after the presidential elections, when both Mr Ratsiraka and Mr Ravalomanana claimed victory.

Mr Ravalomanana now has a court ruling in his favour.

A meeting between the two men in Senegal last week failed to end the confrontation.

Speculation

Mr Ratsiraka's sudden departure has unleashed a barrage of speculation in Madagascar's press and in Mr Ravalomanana's camp.

Bitter rivals: Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana
Bitter rivals: Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana
"Ratsiraka has definitively quit the country," said one aide.

On television in the capital, newscasters were proclaiming the end not only of the political crisis but of Mr Ratsiraka's rule in Madagascar.

However, according to sources from within the Ratsiraka camp, such celebrations are premature.

They say Mr Ratsiraka merely intends to spend a few days in Paris with his family before attending the next round of talks, expected to take place in Libreville early next week.

One source from within the Ratsiraka camp even suggested that he had gone abroad to purchase weapons.

But newspapers in Madagascar are suggesting he may have fled into exile.


Key stories

Profiles

Background
See also:

13 Jun 02 | Africa
10 Jun 02 | Africa
31 May 02 | Africa
27 May 02 | Africa
18 Apr 02 | Africa
08 Jun 02 | Africa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes