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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Madagascar resurrects old currency
Marc Ravalomanana
Eric Ravalomanana: Breaking free with the colonial past
The government of Madagascar has announced plans to ditch the Malagasy franc and bring back its pre-colonial currency, the Ariary.

The move marks the determination of President Marc Ravalomanana's government to underscore the island nation's economic independence 43 years after it broke free from French colonial rule.

The Malagasy franc, currently worth about 6,000 to the US dollar, traces its origins back to Madagascar's colonial era.

News of the currency changeover plans coincided with a visit to the Indian Ocean island by Horst Koehler, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

The new Ariary will buy five Malagasy francs, and will be made up of five subdivisions called Iraimbilanja.

Starting on 31 July, the Malagasy Central Bank will issue new Ariary banknotes in 10,000, 5,000, and 2,000 denominations.

The old Malagasy franc will remain legal tender until 30 November, and will be exchangeable until the end of 2009.

President Ravalomanana, a successful businessman, claimed victory in Madagascar's December 2001 general election, and came to power six months later after a tense power struggle with former leader Didier Ratsiraka.

Mr Ravalomanana has promised to use his entrepreneurial flair to fight poverty and unemployment on the island, where average earnings per head of population are estimated at just $260 a year.

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