PUSHing for ravalomanana

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, vehicles burn during a clash in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, Monday, April 20, 2009. At least two people were shot dead and a dozen of others injured in a confrontation between the armed troops and demonstrators against the transitional government led by Andry Rajoelina here Monday afternoon, Xinhua said.  (AP Photo/Xinhua, Bai Jingshan) ** NO SALES **
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, vehicles burn during a clash in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, Monday, April 20, 2009. At least two people were shot dead and a dozen of others injured in a confrontation between the armed troops and demonstrators against the transitional government led by Andry Rajoelina here Monday afternoon, Xinhua said. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Bai Jingshan) ** NO SALES **

MBABANE - Southern African nations are making a new diplomatic push to return Madagascar's ousted leader to power after protests in the vast island state, Swaziland's foreign minister said yesterday.

MBABANE - Southern African nations are making a new diplomatic push to return Madagascar's ousted leader to power after protests in the vast island state, Swaziland's foreign minister said yesterday.

Lutfo Dlamini said a "high level" Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission was leaving for Madagascar yesterday, and that he would lead a ministerial delegation from the body's three-nation security body later.

The announcement follows a flurry of meetings between the fallen president Marc Ravalomanana with presidents Kgalema Motlanthe and Ian Khama of Botswana.

The 15-nation SADC suspended Madagascar three weeks ago over the army-backed takeover by opposition leader Andry Rajoelina and demanded the reinstatement of Ravalomanana.

Swaziland currently heads the SADC's security troika.

Dlamini dismissed speculation that the SADC would use force to make Rajoelina hand back power, and said Ravalomanana had promised to hold elections by the end of the year if he is reinstated.

"To show that President Ravalomanana is committed to democracy he has assured the SADC and the troika that he will call fresh elections before the end of the year to endorse his presidency," he said.

Rajoelina has so far ignored regional calls for him to step down. - Sapa-AFP

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