Madagascar’s former PM returns home from exile

By Nangayi Guyson – Antananarivo -AFP –  Madagascar’s former prime ministers  has returned home ahead of a constitutional referendum next month after spending nearly seven years in exile  , witnesses said.

Tantely AndrianarivoTantely Andrianarivo who was prime minister under former president Didier Ratsiraka arrived late Wednesday and  on his arrival at Antananarivo airpor, said,“It’s with great humility that I once again set foot on Madagascan soil after almost seven years of exile …

The former prime minister is the second major political figure to return from exile since the fall of the Ravalomanana regime 19 months ago and the seizing of power by Andry Rajoelina.

Pierrot Rajaonarivelo, a former deputy prime minister under Ratsiraka, returned from exile at the end of April 2009.

“I haven’t come back to occupy a post but rather to understand the way of life and the wishes of the people of Madagascar,” said Andrianarivo.

Andrianarivo fled Madagascar in January 2004, a few days after he was sentenced to 12 years forced labour on charges including embezzlement and usurpation of office by the government of then president Marc Ravalomanana.

Prime minister under Ratsiraka, who governed from 1975 to 1993 and then from 1997 to 2002, Andrianarivo was arrested in May 2002 during the political crisis that put an end to the Ratsiraka regime and brought Ravalomanana to power.

“We were defeated but we were not at fault,” Andrianarivo told some 200 people who turned out to meet him, referring to his sentence.

The Indian Ocean island has been mired in a political crisis since the end of 2008 and the March 2009 eviction of Ravalomanana and his replacement by Rajoelina, a former mayor of Antananarivo.

A constitutional referendum is planned for November 17, followed by legislative elections in March 2011 and a presidential poll in May, according to a political agreement signed August 13 between the Rajoelina regime and around 100 political parties.

The process has been criticised by the camps of the three former presidents Ravalomanana, Ratsiraka et Albert Zafy. –