Madagascar election set for July despite mediator's unease

ANTANANARIVO Sun May 5, 2013 2:17pm EDT

Andry Nirina Rajoelina addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Andry Nirina Rajoelina addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine

Related Topics

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar will go ahead with a planned presidential election in July, an international mediator said on Sunday, days after the leader of the Indian Ocean island reneged on a promise not to run.

Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in a coup in 2009, had said in January he would not put his name forward, bowing to pressure from regional powers to stand aside to prevent unrest in this year's vote.

But his camp said that deal was broken when the wife of ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana, who had also said he would not contest the vote, said she would stand instead.

A vast island as big as Arizona and Nevada combined, Madagascar has major reserves of oil and minerals but the past four years of political uncertainty have damaged growth and deterred investors.

Former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, who has mediated in the crisis since 2009, said he was "uneasy" at what had taken place but had seen nothing to suggest that anyone wanted to set the political process back.

"The Malagasy people want to hold this election on time and find ways to ensure that these elections are peaceful," Chissano told reporters in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo.

Rajoelina was among 41 people whose names were published by a special electoral court on Friday, confirming them as candidates in the July 24 election.

Chissano said he respected the court and its decision to permit Rajoelina's nomination was irreversible. "It is left to us to hope that there will not be any further irregularities," he said.

Rajoelina's volte-face has raised tensions on the island, whose resources include gold, chrome, uranium, cobalt, nickel and ilmenite, a titanium ore.

The economy shrank 4.6 percent in 2009, the year of the coup, after growing at 7.1 percent the year before, and is forecast to expand just 2.6 percent this year, according to the World Bank.

Rajoelina, a former disc jockey, said his political opponents had nothing to fear. "When you throw yourself into a competition, you have to dare and be afraid of nothing," the president said this weekend.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) brokered a deal in September 2011 that confirmed Rajoelina as president and allowed for the unconditional return of Ravalomanana.

But the toppled leader remains in self-imposed exile in South Africa, having been blocked by the government from returning on at least two occasions.

He was sentenced in absentia to life in prison after he was accused of ordering elite troops to kill Rajoelina's supporters in the run-up to his overthrow.

(Writing by Richard Lough, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
Is Reuters a pro-coup agency ?
This article by Alain Iloniaina is an example of propaganda from the pro-coup newspaper “Express de Madagascar” which belongs to Edgard Razafindravahy, who is known as one of the Rajoelina’s sponsors. Both are candidates for presidential elections, designated by the small, undemocratic and artificial party, the “TGV”.
“Self-imposed exile ?”
In the 2009 armed coup, the overthrown president Ravalomanana took refuge in South Africa. Since then, the illegal coup regime has blocked him from returning in Madagascar.
Kangaroo trial !
Malagasy denounce a kangaroo trial against their democratically elected president, without investigation, without any proof of guilt. Malagasy demand the return of their “Dada” (Daddy) and also the restoration of order and the rule of law.
That is the truth !

May 06, 2013 3:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.