Backers of Madagascar's deposed leader to name new candidate

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2013 1:04 PM

By Alain Ilioniania

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Backers of the deposed president of Madagascar said on Monday they would name a new candidate to run in a delayed presidential election after his wife was barred from the race.

Supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana earlier this month threatened to take to the streets after Madagascar's Special Electoral Court (CES) blocked his wife, Lalao Ravalomanana, as well as President Andry Rajaoelina, from running.

Monday's announcement could help defuse tensions on the Indian Ocean island that has been blighted by political turmoil since Rajaoelina toppled Ravalomanana in 2009 with the help of the military after opposition protests.

But it was not immediately clear if a new candidate would be accepted as the deadline for submitting names has past.

Rajaoelina and Ravalomanana had reached a deal with regional states to restore order on the island, based on the condition neither would run. But Rajaoelina changed tack when Ravalomanana's wife declared, saying her bid broke the spirit of the pact.

"We wish to present our candidate to replace Mrs Lalao Ravalomanana to the CES," Mamy Rakotoarivelo, the president of the National Assembly, said, speaking after the court refused to rescind its decision to bar the former leader's wife.

He did not name the new candidate but added that "we will soon know his identity".

The election is now scheduled for October, the third time the date has been put back. It was originally planned for May.

The court's ruling to bar the candidates was welcomed by regional and Western powers who say the former French colony needs a fresh start after years of chaos that have scared off investors and tourists, deepening poverty in the poor nation.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Heavens)