Madagascar's former president under house arrest

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Madagascar's former president has been moved to house arrest in the capital Antananarivo, following months of detention, according to a representative on Saturday.

Marc Ravalomanana was formally placed under house arrest following a decision by Madagascan authorities to allow him return to the capital, Antananarivo, on Dec. 24 to spend Christmas with his family, according to his representative Brian Currin.

Ravalomanana is being held in the home he shares with his wife and sons. He was previously detained in the northern city of Antsiranana, also known as Diego Suarez, 700 kilometers (435 miles) from the capital.

"It's a significant change," said Currin. "This is a definite move in the right direction and to his release in the not so distant future."

The ousted leader was arrested in October when he returned to Madagascar following more than five years in exile in South Africa.

Currin says no charges were laid against Ravalomanana. The government said they were holding him for his own safety, according to Currin.

While in detention Ravalomanana met with current President Hery Rajaonarimampianina after signing a declaration that he recognized the new leader.

"I commit myself to working towards reconciliation," Ravalomanana said in a signed letter addressed to the president, a copy of which was shared with The Associated Press.

He fled Madagascar in March 2009 after he was ousted from office by a coup.

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