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