Madagascar's embattled Rajoelina pulls island out of SADC
Madagascar's embattled leader Andry Rajoelina announced Wednesday he was pulling the country out of the Southern African Development Community trade grouping after the 15- nation bloc on Monday suspended the island, dpa reported.
Rajoelina made the announcement in the provincial city of Fiarantsoa after a meeting with business leaders.
On Monday SADC leaders opted at a meeting in Swaziland to suspend Madagascar over Rajoelina's ouster of the island's democratically- elected president of seven years, Marc Ravalomanana, earlier this month.
They took their decision after a briefing by Ravalomanana, who stepped aside after being pressured to resign by the army following weeks of opposition protests.
Thousands of his supporters have held demonstrations in the capital Antananarivo over the past week to demand his return.
Ravalomanana had handed his powers to a military triumvirate, which then transferred the powers conferred on them to his 34-year- old arch-rival, Rajoelina, former mayor of Antananarivo.
SADC, the African Union, the European Union, the US and others have condemned the handover of power as unconstitutional, despite Madagascar's constitutional court declaring it legal.
The AU has also suspended the vast Indian Ocean island, which lies off the coast of south-east Africa and is famous for its abundance of rare flora and fauna.
Rajoelina has downplayed SADC's suspension, saying SADC is of little importance to the former French colony and that the trade ties mainly benefitted Ravalomanana.
Ravalomanana, 59, is the owner of a vast food conglomerate.