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Madagascar, election before the end of the year

By on May 9, 2011

Madagascar’s self-declared president Andry Rajoelina is making his first official trip abroad, officials said Saturday, after he announced his intention to organise presidential elections later this year.

A senior foreign ministry official said Rajoelina had left Antananarivo late Friday for Turkey via Paris, to represent Madagascar at next week’s UN conference on aid to the world’s Least Developed Countries in Istanbul.

The official said he would speak at the conference, even though his regime is not recognised internationally.

On May 12 Rajoelina is to have talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and the head of the Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations, Abdou Diouf.

“These three meetings are part of the process of international recognition of the transition” in Madagascar, Rajoelina’s diplomatic adviser Paul Rafanoharana told AFP.

He said Rajoelina would then be concentrating on a special summit on Madagascar of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC), planned for May 20 but so far without a venue announced.

The impoverished Indian Ocean island fell into a serious political crisis after the army-backed Rajoelina, then mayor of Antananarivo, ousted his predecessor Marc Ravalomanana in 2009.

In an interview with the weekly Jeune Afrique to be published Monday Rajoelina said he would study and confirm a roadmap proposed by SADC mediators in order to kick-start an electoral process.

“Elections need to be organised before the end of the year,” he said.

“The transition has been far too long and plunges Madagascar into economic and social instability due to the sanctions imposed,” he added, referring to African Union bans on travel and diplomatic isolation following the coup.

The European Union also suspended aid last year due to the country’s political deadlock.

Asked whether he would run for the presidency, which he denied he would do a year ago, the 36-year-old said: “I know I will be elected, now or in five years.”

“No one can prevent me from being a candidate… I am free to present myself. When the moment comes I will decide in my soul and conscience.”

In March eight political parties initialled the new roadmap, which acknowledged Rajoelina as transitional president until new elections.

It gives no deadline for the polls, saying the electoral timetable would be determined together with the electoral commission and the United Nations.

Supporters of former president Ravalomanana, exiled in South Africa, and other previous leaders have rejected the roadmap.

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