June 14, 2011 / 5:33 PM / in 6 years

Madagascar puts conditions on Ravalomanana return

3 Min Read

* Rajoelina says stability to be restored before foe returns

* Military will take all actions needed to block ex-leader

By Alain Iloniaina

ANTANANARIVO, June 14 (Reuters) - Madagascar's exiled former President Marc Ravalomanana will not be allowed to return home until the country is stable and he can be held accountable for acts committed during his rule, its president said on Tuesday.

President Andry Rajoelina, who overthrew Ravalomanana with the help of rebel troops in March 2009, said Ravalomanana would be held to account for crimes committed during his final weeks in power when he returned to the Indian Ocean island.

"For Ravalomanana, the road map is clear: he can return when the (political) situation is stable and when there is no good reason to prevent him from doing so," Rajoelina said in a statement.

"But it goes without saying he can't just return. He must stand accountable for his acts. There is no amnesty for blood crimes."

Southern African leaders called on Monday for Ravalomanana to be allowed to return to Madagascar ahead of elections there, for which no date has yet been set.

Rajoelina has accused Ravalomanana of ordering his presidential guard to shoot dead about 30 protestors in February, 2009, when popular demonstrations against his increasingly autocratic leadership peaked.

Rajoelina's power grab plunged Madagascar, the world's leading vanilla producer, into a political crisis that has dragged on for more than two years, stunting economic growth.

Africa's youngest leader said he would not back any amendment to a March road map aimed at ending the crisis, which was approved by the Southern African Development Community but snubbed by Madagascar's main opposition parties.

Ravalomanana is in exile in South Africa and was restricted from returning home in February. He said Rajoelina's government blocked his return.

"Given the renewed stability in the country since the beginning of 2011, the security forces categorically will not accept an immediate return by the former president in order to safeguard public security," said army chief General Andre Ndriarijaona.

"They (security forces) affirm their readiness to take all necessary action to uphold this declaration," said Ndriarijaona, who was among the most senior dissidents who backed Rajoelina's power grab. (Editing by Richard Lough)

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