afrol News, 16 February - As Malagasy ex-President Mar Ravalomanana prepares to go home, his followers prepare a welcome-back party while government threatens to arrest him. Meanwhile, a new mediator has been named.
In Antananarivo, many followers of toppled President Ravalomanana are preparing for large and festive manifestations as the ex-leader has announced his return from exile to Madagascar on Saturday. "Residents from the provinces are also preparing to travel to the capital," supporters report from the Great Island.
Aides of the toppled President yesterday announced Mr Ravalomanana's return, saying the exiled leader would seek to find a negotiated solution to the crisis that has paralysed Madagascar since the coup against him in March 2009. The non-recognised government of President Andry Rajoelina since then has faced international isolation.
Several attempts to negotiate a return to the constitutional order have been made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), mostly failing on Mr Rajoelina's rejection to step down.
A recent proposal by SADC for a roadmap of transition, which would allow for Mr Rajoelina to function as Interim President however seems to have triggered new movements in the Malagasy political standstill. While Mr Rajoelina not has reacted to the roadmap - claiming peace and stability how has returned to Madagascar - Mr Ravalomanana has indicated he could accept it, thus announcing his return from exile.
Another indication of renewed movement in the Malagasy crisis is the naming of a new, prominent AU mediator. Outgoi
Malagasy transitional leader Andry Rajoelina at a rally during last year's constitutional referendum
ng President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi of neighbouring Comoros was appointed AU mediator by African Commission Chairman Jean Ping.
President Sambi, who will vacate his presidential office on 21 May, was set to go to Antananarivo on Wednesday, sources in the Comoran government today reported. Here, he was to meet with transitional authorities and political parties opposing Mr Rajoelina to discuss when elections could be held, it was informed.
There were no comments on whether President Sambi had made appointments to meet with ex-President Ravalomanana in Antananarivo.
While the AU, SADC and Malagasy opposition are making renewed efforts to break the standstill, President Rajoelina seems to be taken by surprise by this new activity after months of relative silence. The Malagasy transitional government today remained defiant to the new pressure.
Justice Minister Christine Razanamahasoa of the Rajoelina government said that Mr Ravalomanana would be arrested upon arrival in Madagascar. Last year, the ex-President was convicted in absentia to life in prison over alleged orders to kill protesters in February 2009. "If he comes, his conviction will be effected," said the Minister.
Latest reports from Antananarivo indicate increasing activity by both pro-Ravalomanana activist and security forces, said to be tightening security across the country before the ex-President's arrival.
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