Madagascar's Exiled President Vows Return Saturday

Published January 20, 2012 12:18PM (EST)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The president of Madagascar, exiled in South Africa since a 2009 coup, said Friday he will return to his Indian Ocean homeland on Saturday even though he faces arrest there.

Following the coup, Marc Ravalomanana was convicted in absentia of conspiracy to commit murder in a case related to the turmoil during his overthrow. The court was appointed by Andry Rajoelina, who took power with the military's backing in 2009. Ravalomanana called the tribunal illegitimate.

"Any attempt to arrest me will be unlawful," Ravalomanana told reporters Friday. "I have not committed any of the crimes of which I am accused by the illegal regime."

Harry Laurent Rahajason, the government spokesman in Madagascar, said Ravalomanana "will be arrested" if he returns.

Attempts to find a political solution in Madagascar have been troubled. A new prime minister and unity Cabinet that took office last year were greeted with protests by some opposition figures and skepticism from the international community. Rajoelina appears firmly in control.

By Salon Staff

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