Madagascar: Ravalomanana takes refuge in Swaziland
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||25 March 2009|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Madagascar: Ravalomanana takes refuge in Swaziland, 25 March 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49cb32fb0.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
MBABANE, 25 March 2009 (IRIN) - Deposed Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana has taken refuge in Swaziland, where a high-ranking government official expects him to be in the country "for a long time".
Ravalomanana arrived in Mbabane, Swaziland's capital, on 23 March. Leaders of the 15-member state regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), will gather in Mbabane on 29 March to decide on a course of action.
It is not known as yet which leaders will attend the emergency meeting, although the organization has already condemned Andry Rajoelina's elevation to the presidency as "unconstitutional".
Ravalomanana met with Swaziland's King Mswati III, chairman of the SADC defence troika on 24 March, the day after his arrival in the country.
SADC's troika on politics, defence and security is comprised of Mozambique, Angola and Swaziland.
The African Union has suspended Madagascar from the organization and SADC has spoken publicly of imposing sanctions against the island state.
Ravalomanana is staying at a hotel outside Mbabane costing US$2,500 per night, and has been provided with army protection.
The Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Clifford Mamba, told IRIN that Ravalomanana had not requested political asylum, but was a guest of Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. "President Ravalomanana will be in Swaziland for a long time," Mamba said.
According to reports, a pre-recorded message was broadcast at a pro-Ravalomanana demonstration in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, on 25 March, in which the former 59-year-old president described his ousting as "a coup".
"It is up to us, it is up to you, it is up to me ... to save the nation, defend the union and our national unity," Ravalomanana reportedly said. "Madagascar was on the road to development and now they are destroying our country with their coup."
The situation in Madagascar remains volatile; on 25 March, for the second consecutive day, thousands of people reportedly marched in support of Ravalomanana.