Madagascar's ex-leader Ravalomanana freed from house arrest

Ousted Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana was held under house arrest in the northern town of Antsiranana (also known as Diego Suarez) since returning from exile in South Africa in October 2014 (AFP Photo/-)

Antananarivo (AFP) - Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina said Saturday he was ending the house arrest of his predecessor Marc Ravalomanana as part of the Indian Ocean island's peace process.

The announcement came in a speech at a national reconciliation meeting organised by the nation's churches after the president said Ravalomanana had recognised "the legitimacy of the current government".

Ravalomanana, who was ousted in a 2009 coup, has been under house arrest in the northern town of Antsiranana (also known as Diego Suarez) since returning from exile in South Africa in October 2014.

National reconciliation is one of the main points of a roadmap brokered by the southern African regional bloc SADC and signed by the feuding parties in 2011 to end political crises that have long plagued the country.

Former finance minister Rajaonarimampianina became president in elections held in 2013. That vote was designed to resolve chronic instability that brought international isolation and wrecked the Malagasy economy.