Ex-president Ravalomanana to return to Madagascar on Saturday: aide

21:38, February 16, 2011      

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Madagascar's ex-president Marc Ravalomanana is expected to return to the Indian Ocean island on Saturday, nearly two years in exile in South Africa, according to his spokesman Guy Rivo Randrianarisoa.

"Remain firm and know that we shall solidly stand with all Madagascans without any exception. I urge you to stand up and defend our motherland," he said in a message unveiling Ravalomanana's plan to return.

Mamy Rakotoarivelo, the secretary general of Ravalomanana's party Tiko I Madagasikara (TIM), which literally means (I Love Madagascar), confirmed that the former leader will arrive his arrival at 11 a.m. local time on Saturday.

Rakotoarivelo said Ravalomanana was going to return to address party faithfuls in the capital Antananarivo.

"His presence is crucial to accelerate the on-going negotiations to end the crisis," he noted.

Negotiations are brokered by the envoy of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Leornard Simao.

When contacted on phone, Madagascar's Foreign Minister Hyppolite Ramaroson said the "return of Ravalomanana to this Indian Ocean island should not pose any problem."

"If his return creates any problem, we are sure the security forces will handle that," he added.

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