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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Ratsiraka calls for ceasefire
Home in Antananarivo
The poor have suffered most in the dispute
One of the claimants to the presidency of Madagascar has called for an internationally-guaranteed ceasefire.

"I call one last time on Ravalomanana to stop all aggressive acts by his troops", former President Didier Ratsiraka said in a communique issued on Monday.

He said he was ready to respect a ceasefire only if it is guaranteed "by the entire international community".

The attempt to end the fighting is being seen as an indication of Mr Ratsiraka's growing political and military weakness, the BBC's Jonny Donovan reports from Ambilobe, in the north of the country.

Madagascar's major towns

The communique was released just as troops supporting his opponent, Marc Ravalomanana, said they had captured a key hill on the road to the port of Antsiranana.

Forces loyal to Mr Ratsiraka now control only two of the country's six provinces.

If the advance of pro-Ravalomanana forces continues and Antsiranana falls, Mr Ratsiraka's area of control will be limited to the eastern port of Toamasina.

He has also suffered diplomatic setbacks with the United States, Australia and Japan all recognising Mr Ravalomanana as president.

No elections

To avert the military and political threats to his political survival, Mr Ratsiraka has called for the ceasefire and for the holding of new elections.

Didier Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka calls for ceasefire and reconciliation

A new vote has already been rejected by Mr Ravalomanana, who stood against Mr Ratsiraka in the December 2001 elections.

The constitutional court in Madagascar ruled that former President Ratsiraka had lost the election. He refuses to accept the court ruling.

His domestic political support is also ebbing away. The national secretary of his own political party, Arema, has announced his recognition of Mr Ravalomanana's government.


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17 Jun 02 | Africa
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