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Paris did not back Rajoelina, claims French junior minister

Article published on the 2009-03-24 Latest update 2009-03-24 15:45 TU

Demonstrations in Antananarivo(Photo: AFP)

Demonstrations in Antananarivo
(Photo: AFP)

France did not back Andry Rajoelina's takeover as Madagascar's President, French junior minister Alain Joyandet claimed today, while admitting that a delegation travelled to the troubled island during the recent crisis. On Monday thousands demonstrated against Rajoelina in the capital, Antanananarivo.

France did not give work for Rajoelina's ascent to power, Joyandet told LCI radio Tuesday.

"You can't say that France helped [Rajoelina], that's not true," said the Secretary of State for Co-operation, " because we paid a lot of attention to Madagascar's institutions."

But French diplomats did give refuge to Rajeolina for several days when he went into hiding during his battle to topple former President Marc Ravolamana, giving rise to accusations that it supported him.

And Joyandet told the radio station that he had accompanied a committee devoted to the Indian Ocean on a visit to the island because "we wanted, above all, to ensure peace and protect the 20,000 French nationals in Madagascar".

Half of the French citizens there have double nationality, according to Joyandet.

On Friday France joined the US in calling the move a coup d'état

On Monday, thousands of Ravolamanana demonstrated against the new President, chanting slogans like "Come back our father! Come back father Rovalo!".

Rajoelina already faces international sanctions after suspending parliament and refusing to call elections for the next two years. Washington, Paris, the African Union and the South African Development Community all refuse to recognise his legitimacy.