Madagascar Ex-President Ravalomanana Arrested On Return From Exile

The former president of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, has been arrested on his return to the country after five years in exile in South Africa.

Tear gas was fired and security forces were seen outside his house before he was detained, a BBC reporter says.

Mr Ravalomanana's previous attempts to return were blocked by Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in 2009.

Last year, the rivals agreed not to contest elections intended to end years of political unrest.

Former Finance Minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina - an ally of Mr Rajoelina - become president in January.

Before his arrest, Mr Ravalomanana told his supporters in the capital, Antananarivo: "I am here to support peace and democracy."

The BBC's Tim Healy in Antananarivo says security sources confirmed the arrest, which was reported on local news channels.

Mr Ravalomanana was ousted in 2009 following a military coup and two months of bloody protests that left more than 100 dead.

He fled to Swaziland before later moving to South Africa.

In 2010, he was sentenced in his absence to life imprisonment with hard labour over the deaths of 30 opposition protesters by his guards in February 2009.

Despite this, he made attempts to return home. In 2012, a plane taking him to Madagascar was turned back during the journey.

Hery Rajaonarimampianina speaks to his staff in central Antananarivo, Madagascar on 26 October 2013

A spokesman for the South African department of international relations, Clayson Monyela, told news agency AFP he had no information on Mr Ravalomanana's return.

Madagascar has become more politically stable following the elections in late 2013 that saw Mr Rajaonarimampianina elected president.

The elections were a bid to end Madagascar's economic paralysis after the international community imposed sanctions following the coup.

The country was also allowed to rejoin the Southern African Development Community and African Union.

Source: BBC Africa

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