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Madagascar Vows to Arrest Exiled Former President Ravalomanana

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Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Madagascar vowed to arrest exiled former President Marc Ravalomanana, who may return to the Indian Ocean island country after an agreement was signed that enables him to travel home.

Ten political groups, including a representative of Ravalomanana, agreed on a so-called roadmap on Sept. 17 that aims to end a 2 ½ year-long political dispute that began when Ravalomanana was ousted by Andry Rajoelina with the support of the nation’s military. The accord leaves Rajoelina in charge until elections are held within a year, Voice of America reported, without citing anyone.

While the agreement allows Ravalomanana’s unconditional return to Madagascar, an annex to the accord states that the Southern African Development Community, which brokered the deal, respects the sovereignty of its member states, Justice Minister Christine Razanamahasoa said in a phone interview yesterday. “When he returns, he will be arrested,” she said.

Rajoelina, a 37-year-old former nightclub DJ, seized power in March 2009 in a coup that led to Madagascar’s suspension from the 15-nation SADC and the African Union, and resulted in donors stopping aid that made up two-thirds of state revenue. Rajoelina’s administration issued an arrest warrant for Ravalomana last year.

Ravalomanana said in an interview with Radio France Intenational before the agreement was signed that he plans to return to Madagascar “shortly,” and said the Justice Ministry’s plan to prosecute him is illegal.

“I am president and I can’t be judged by an ordinary court,” he said.

Madagascar is the world’s largest vanilla grower, while oil, nickel and titanium products have also attracted interest from investors including Korea Resources Corp., Canada’s Sherritt International Corp., Total SA of France and Rio Tinto Plc, which mines ilmenite, a mineral used as pigment in paint, in the southeast of the country.

Lemur Resources Ltd., a Perth, Australia-based coal-exploration company, said earlier today it signed an agreement with Madagascar’s state-owned electricity company to study the development of a coal-fired power plant.

To contact the reporter on this story: Saralea Judicaelle in Antananarivo via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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