Madagascar to hold presidential vote in November amid crisis

ANTANANARIVO (AFP) – Madagascar will hold a presidential election on November 7, the Prime Minister said yesterday, after street protests and a political crisis that forced the appointment of a caretaker government.

If no candidate wins an outright majority, a second round of voting will be held on December 19, added Prime Minister Christian Ntsay.

The Indian Ocean island nation has been in the grip of a growing stand-off over proposed electoral reforms that triggered mass protests and led the Constitutional Court to order a caretaker government to organise the ballot.

Demonstrators took to the capital Antananarivo’s central square over President Hery Rajaonarimampianina’s efforts to change electoral laws that opponents said were intended to favour his party.

The proposals were overturned by the courts. But the protests morphed into a full-blown movement to oust Rajaonarimampianina. Clashes between activists and the security forces claimed two lives and left more than a dozen injured.

Madagascan President Hery Rajaonarimampianina (C) with Prime Minister Christian Ntsay, the head of a ‘consensus’ government ordered by the country’s top court. – AFP

“There was a Cabinet meeting and the government took the decision that the first round of the presidential election would be on November 7, and the second round on December 19,” Ntsay told journalists following yesterday’s meeting.

“I hope that the announcement of these dates will help strengthen the political compromise and deliver legitimate elections that will resolve Madagascar’s problems.”

President Rajaonarimampianina has yet to say whether he will seek re-election in the polls.

Two of his predecessors and arch-rivals, Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, have indicated they will run.