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Madagascar passes amnesty law excluding former president

Madagascar passed a law granting amnesty [AFP report] to those who committed crimes during the political unrest in the country over the last three years, but excluded human rights violations for which former president Marc Ravalomanana [BBC profile] has been convicted and sentenced to death, officials said Saturday. This effectively continues to block Ravalomanana's return to Madagascar. He was sentenced in absentia in relation to 30 protestors killed by his presidential guard in 2010 after he was ousted from his office by current President Andry Rajoelina [BBC profile]. This law was passed as a step towards new elections as called for by the Southern African Development Community [official website].

Political unrest has plagued Madagascar for the last 3 years [Reuters timeline] after Ravalomanana stepped down as president. Last month, the trial of a former judge charged with plotting a coup [JURIST report] began. In November 2010, there was an attempted coup during a constitutional referendum [JURIST reports]. Despite holding power since 2009 [JURIST report], much of the international community has refused to recognize Rajoelina's regime.

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