Madagascar chief flip-flops on race

AFP-JIJI

President Andry Rajoelina shocked Madagascar by registering as a candidate for upcoming elections, documents revealed, despite an earlier vow to step aside in a bid to end the island’s political crisis.

A list of presidential candidates published by the Special Electorial Court showed the interim leader, who came to power in a 2009 coup, among the 41 approved candidates for the July 24 vote.

In January, the 38-year-old former disc jockey said he would step back from the race, as a way of breaking Madagascar’s crippling political deadlock.

He said on Friday that his decision was prompted by rivals throwing their hat into the ring. “To my great surprise I saw the former president (Marc Ravalomanana) was running for the presidential elections through his spouse,” he told Radio France Internationale. “Former President Didier Ratsiraka is also running, so I said to myself: ‘It’s a free election and should be transparent. Why would I not run?’ “

Rajoelina deposed Ravalomanana, his archrival and predecessor, in a military-backed coup. That resulted in international isolation and tense power politics.

Ravalomanana had made a similar vow not to run, although his wife, Lalao, was listed among the 41 approved candidates.

Also on the list was former President Ratsiraka, who like Lalao Ravalomanana recently came back from exile. He fled to France following a postelection dispute that sparked violence and chaos when he refused to concede defeat to Marc Ravalomanana.