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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Ratsiraka moots Madagascar return
Didier and Celine Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka arrived in Paris with his wife
Madagascar's former President, Didier Ratsiraka, has said that he could return to the island if new elections are called.


If democracy returns and we prepare for new elections, then I will go back

Didier Ratsiraka
Mr Ratsiraka was speaking in Paris, where he arrived on Sunday with members of his family and political colleagues.

Troops supporting the new President, Marc Ravalomanana, are now reaching Mr Ratsiraka's final stronghold, Tamatave, on the island's east coast.

The island has been divided since disputed elections last December, with Mr Ratsiraka refusing to accept defeat.

Mr Ravalomanana told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the struggle was over now and they had contol of the whole country - but he ruled out the rerun of elections.

Corruption charges

Mr Ratsiraka had fled Madagascar on Friday, and arrived in Paris after stopping for two days in the Seychelles.

France, which last week recognised Mr Ravalomanana as president, did not arrange any official welcome for Mr Ratsiraka.

Mr Ratsiraka told reporters at Charles de Gaulle airport that there should be a second round of elections or a referendum.

"If democracy returns and we prepare for new elections, then I will go back," said the ousted president.

However, a minister in the new government said that Mr Ratsiraka would be sought for trial on corruption and political violence charges.

"We have always said Ratsiraka is a criminal and that we will pursue him wherever he is," said Communications Minister Mamy Rakotoarivelo.

Final province

On Sunday, white flags were reported to be flying at the airport and military barracks in the eastern province of Toamasina, the last area to remain loyal to Mr Ratsiraka.

He was born in the province, and has traditionally received strong backing there.

The commander of the province met officers from troops backing President Ravalomanana and pledged backing for his administration.

"From now we recognise Mr Ravalomanana, the president of the republic, as supreme commander of the armed forces," said General Iandro Fenomanana.

The province has been cut off from the capital, Antananarivo, for six months, since the crisis began.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
President Ravalomanana on Focus on Africa
"Everything is going well"

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07 Jul 02 | Africa
05 Jul 02 | Africa
05 Jul 02 | Africa
03 Jul 02 | Africa
01 Jul 02 | Africa
27 Jun 02 | Africa
25 Jun 02 | Africa
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