Madagascar to hold presidential election next May

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 01, 2012 5:50 PM
Madagascar to hold presidential election next May

By Alain Iloniaina

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar will hold presidential elections on May 8 next year, officials said on Wednesday, as the Indian Ocean island follows a political road map aimed at ending three years of unrest.

Madagascar has been in crisis since 2009 when then-opposition leader Andry Rajoelina ousted President Marc Ravalomanana with the support of the army after opposition protests.

Ravalomanana was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the killings of demonstrators by elite troops in the coup.

Beatrice Atallah, president of Madagascar's electoral body, announced the election date in a statement on Wednesday and said July 3 had been set aside for a possible run-off in the presidential poll. Parliamentary elections will also take place on July 3, she said.

In September, Madagascar's main political parties signed a road map mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which confirmed Rajoelina as president and allowed for the unconditional return of Ravalomanana from self-imposed exile.

The deal also recommended holding elections within a year.

However, the two rivals for Madagascar's presidency have so far failed to agree terms under which Ravalomanana could return to Madagascar.

The sticking point is that the former leader could be arrested upon his return, which may prevent him attempting to come back.

The two men are under pressure from the SADC, which wants them to hammer out a final agreement by the time the bloc holds a summit in Mozambique in mid-August.

The impoverished island's mainstay tourism industry has suffered badly from the years of turmoil, and foreign companies have been wary of committing to investment in its oil, gold, chrome and nickel reserves.

(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Pravin Char)