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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Madagascar coup leader concedes title
Marc Ravalomanana
Ravalomanana is taking a risk in honouring the deal
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Alastair Leithead
By Alastair Leithead
BBC correspondent in Antananarivo

Madagascar is back to just having one president after the man who declared himself head of state said he will stick to an agreement designed to end the four-month political crisis.

Speaking exclusively to the BBC, Marc Ravalomanana, who declared himself president in February, said the move was his concession in accords he signed with incumbent president, Didier Ratsiraka.

Why to force him, why to take again the name of the president?

Marc Ravalomanana
In return, Mr Ravalomanana now expects blockades that have been suffocating the capital for weeks to be lifted, and a recount of the December presidential election to go ahead. Both sides have said they will respect the results.

"After disagreement... we make agreement between Didier Ratsiraka, president of Madagascar and me," said Mr Ravalomanana.

"You see... he makes the decision to accept to recount. Why to force him, why to take again the name of the president?

"We can work with just the one, we've got two weeks," he said.

Didier Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka agreed to a recount of election results

There is no doubt that Marc Ravalomanana is taking a risk in honouring this agreement.

Many of his supporters will be angry that he has dropped the title of president after all they have been through to secure him in that position.

Mass protests and a general strike lasted more than six weeks.

The emphasis, though, is now firmly on Mr Ratsiraka's camp, and whether they are prepared to lift the barricades and to honour his side of the bargain.

See also:

20 Apr 02 | Africa
Annan backs Madagascar deal
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar cautious on peace deal
19 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar's flawed accord
18 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar rivals sign peace deal
17 Apr 02 | Africa
Madagascar court annuls election
08 Mar 02 | Africa
Madagascar's great divide
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