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Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 02:42 GMT 03:42 UK
Madagascar head ignores OAU decision
Marc Ravalomanana
Ravalomanana was sworn as president in last month
Marc Ravalomanana, the disputed president of Madagascar, has dismissed the refusal of the Organisation of African Unity to recognise his government.

At an OAU emergency meeting in Addis Ababa on Friday, delegates decided that neither Mr Ravolomanana nor his rival Didier Ratsiraka could be said to be the legitimate government.


We knew their decision in advance - it changes nothing for us

Ravalomanana spokesman
Mr Ravolomanana was declared president by a Madagascan court after a disputed election in December, but the verdict was not accepted by Mr Ratsiraka and his supporters, leading to widespread civil unrest in the country which has cost up to 70 lives.

A spokesman for Mr Ravolomanana said that the OAU was "a club of old heads of state, some of them friends of Didier Ratsiraka, who keep themselves in power in the same way he did".

"Marc Ravalomanana appeals solemnly to all to defend the nation and show that the Madagascans are independent and will not let themselves be interfered with," said Raymond Ramandimbilahatra.

"We knew their decision in advance. It changes nothing for us," he added.

The OAU 17-state central body said that Madagascar's seat should remain vacant at next month's summit of the organisation in Durban.

The new African Union is due to be launched there.

Ratsiraka returns

Mr Ratsiraka returned to Madagascar early on Sunday morning from Addis Ababa, where he had been attending the OAU meeting.

Didier Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka: Accused of being part of the "OAU club"
He travelled to his stronghold of Toamasina on the island's east coast.

State radio on Saturday reported that soldiers loyal to Mr Ravolomanana took the town of Ambanja and the small island of Nosy Be, both in the northern province of Antsiranana.

Antsiranana is one of only two provinces still controlled by Mr Ratsiraka.

The radio said that three soldiers loyal to Mr Ratsiraka were killed.

But on Saturday the former colonial power, France, called on both men to form a government of national reconciliation "without delay".


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22 Jun 02 | Africa
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