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Elections

Madagascar sets date for election, three candidates barred

Madagascar's electoral commission has said the country will hold a long-delayed presidential poll aimed at ending a political crisis. Three of the frontrunners for the post have been disqualified by an electoral court.

Poll organizers said on Thursday that the presidential election would be held on October 25, in a vote aimed at ending the constitutional crisis brought about by a coup four years ago.

Elections for Madagascar's national parliament have been slated for December 20, when a second round of presidential voting is also to take place if there is no clear winner in the first poll.

Two previous dates have been postponed because of disagreements over who should be allowed to run for the presidency, and a lack of funding.

Last week, a court removed the names of three serious contenders for the presidency. They include current president and former disc jockey Andry Rajoelina, who came to power in a coup that ousted and exiled former President Marc Ravalomanana. Rajoelina was said to have not submitted his candidacy ahead of the deadline.

Paperwork not in order

Ravalomanana's wife, Lalao, was taken off the list because she had not lived in Madagascar six months before the poll. Also deleted was former President Didier Ratsiraka, who filed his papers for the candidacy only two days after he returned from 11 years of exile in France. Ratsiraka was president of the country from 1975 to 1993.

The country has been stuck in political limbo since Rajoelina, a former mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, took power in 2009. He had promised not to run for the presidency, but did so when the wife of his former rival said she would stand.

All three of those removed from the list had earlier refused to withdraw from the electoral race, despite international bodies condemning the three candidacies.

Election officials had themsleves refused to remove the candidates from the list until the court decision. The ruling, which included a block on five other candidates, threw open the poll to a whole new array of contenders.

A revised submission of 38 contenders, has received the approval of the Southern African Development Community.

rc / ch (AFP Reuters)