March 20, 2011 / 12:28 PM / 8 years ago

Exiled Madagascar leader wants S.Africa's help to end crisis

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Madagascar’s exiled former leader Marc Ravalomanana called on Sunday for South Africa to do more to end a two-year political impasse after the latest regional efforts failed.

“We appeal to South Africa to use its leadership to help us bring peace and free-and-fair, internationally supervised elections to Madagascar,” Ravalomanana said in a statement issued in South Africa where he is living in exile.

The world’s largest producer of vanilla was plunged into political crisis when Andry Rajoelina, backed by the military, seized power from Ravalomanana in March 2009.

Three opposition parties this week rejected a road map by regional body the South African Development Community that proposed Rajoelina stay in power until free and fair elections are held.

The SADC, which had stood firmly behind Ravalomanana in the months after his overthrow, switched its stance and swung behind France which is more sympathetic to Rajoelina.

Ravalomanana accused Rajoelina’s government of arresting opposition supporters with no “recourse” to the courts.

“There is no rule of law. Thousands have simply been arrested. Torture and detention without trial is being used as a weapon,” Ravalomanana said.

Ravalomanana was willing to back mediation if government and electoral commission jobs were shared out fairly but has accused Rajoelina of appointing sympathisers to strategic positions.

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