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Sat, 28 Jul 2012 10:18 - Updated Sat, 28 Jul 2012 10:18

Madagascar rivals fail to agree on leader's return from exile


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VICTORIA - Rivals for Madagascar's presidency, in talks to end political turmoil, failed to agree terms under which the island's former leader could return from self-imposed exile, officials at the talks said on Thursday.

Madagascar has been in crisis since 2009 when then-opposition leader Andry Rajoelina ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, who was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the killings of demonstrators by elite troops in the coup.

Rajoelina has agreed with Ravalomanana that he could return but that he would face imprisonment. He flew to meet Ravalomanana in South Africa on Monday hours after the Madagascan army quelled a mutiny in a barracks near the capital's airport.

The impoverished Indian Ocean island's mainstay tourism industry has suffered badly from years of turmoil and foreign companies have been wary of committing to investment in its oil, gold and chrome and nickel reserves.

Ravalomanana has tried to return to the world's fourth largest island twice in the past year and both times the island's airports were closed, blocking his landing.