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Rajoelina seeks extension in office

28 May 2013, 15:35

Antananarivo - Madagascar strongman Andry Rajoelina refused to resign on Monday, asking for more time before complying with a deal to step down ahead of elections in July, in a move that risks plunging the crisis-weary country deeper into turmoil.

According to an internationally brokered roadmap aimed at steering the nation back to constitutional rule, all candidates in the July 24 presidential election had to step down from their government positions before 13:00 GMT on Monday.

But as the deadline passed, Rajoelina, 38, asked the country's special electoral court to extend his stay in office by one month.

"It is unthinkable for me to submit my resignation," he said in a letter read out on national television.

As electoral rules stipulate that candidates must quit their government jobs at least two months prior to the polls, Rajoelina's decision could impact the polling date.

Madagascar has been in political limbo since Rajoelina, a baby-faced former disc jockey and mayor of the capital Antananarivo, seized power from former president Marc Ravalomanana in 2009.

Rajoelina last week said the presidential vote in which he is controversially running will probably not be held on July 24 as planned because international donors have pulled the plug on funding.


Rajoelina's refusal to resign is just a "delaying tactic" and raises questions about his desire to hold free and democratic elections, said Jean Eric Rakotoarisoa, a constitutional law expert.

The European Union ambassador to Madagascar, Leonidas Tezapsidis, said it was not Rajoelina's place to decide when the elections should take place. The EU has already suspended some of its funding for the vote.

Rajoelina and Ravalomanana, 63, had both initially agreed not to run in the polls in an effort to resolve Madagascar's political deadlock.

But Rajoelina reneged on his promise earlier this month after Ravalomanana's wife, Lalao, registered as a candidate.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called on Rajoelina, Ravalomanana's wife and former president  to withdraw from the race.

The African Union has called the trio's candidatures "illegitimate" and vowed not to recognise their victory should any of them win the forthcoming presidential election.



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