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Madagascar's controversial candidates urged to quit by July 31
Xinhua | July 15, 2013 08:31
By Agencies
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The International Contact Group has urged three Madagascar's controversial candidates to withdraw from the presidential race by July 31.

The call was made by the mediator of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Joachim Chissano, on Saturday at a press conference at the end of a six-day mission in the Indian Ocean island country.

Former Madagascan president Didier Ratsiraka, 77, and ex-first lady Lalao Ravalomanana, 60, were asked by the international community to withdraw from the race because they did not live in Madagascar six months before their application.

President of Transition Andry Rajoelina, 39, put his candidacy after April 28, the deadline for application to the race.

Under the relevant law, candidates must live here at least six month before their application to the presidential race. But Madagascar' Special Electoral Court (CES) validated their candidature on May 3.

The CES move is judged by the International Contact Group as illegal.

"Penalties will fall on those who block the process," if concerned candidates do not withdraw from race, Chissano warned.

However, he said penalty is not a solution and that measures will be taken to remove the sanctions announced in 2009 for the 109 personalities of the transition.

Chissano said Rajoelina is currently considering the possibility of withdrawing from the presidential race if the other two candidates agree to do so.

The president of parliament, Mamy Rakotoarivelo, who led Ravalomanana's supporters, said Lalao Ravalomanana remains candidate until further notice. Ratsiraka also said he will remain candidate.

"The International Contact Group will withdraw from the organization of elections if candidates insist.

"If the international community withdraws from the organization of election, there will be an election? And if there is no election, is it necessary to be a candidate? Why does Madagascar hold election if it is not to be recognized?" Chissano asked.

The former Mozambican president said the International Contact Group still holds hope for the election in Madagascar in 2013.

"Others among the 41 candidates did not also respect the legislation on elections in Madagascar. The International Contact Group will issue a new list which reflects it," Chissano added.

The International Contact Group also calls for the restructuring of the CES and proposes that the new CES straighten the existing list of candidates.

The SADC mediator said the church council (FFKM) should maintain the reconciliation work while not interfering in politics.

He said the proposal of former president Zafy, who wants to hold an election on new constitutions before all, is not a solution for Madagascar.

Chissano said the armed forces want to be neutral and ensure the country's security. "They want to remain on law enforcement."

The mediator was accompanied by representatives of the United Nations, the African Union AU), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the International organization of Francophonie (OIF) and the United States at the press conference held at Colbert Hotel in the capital Antananarivo.

The presidential election was initially set for July 24, before postponed sine die for this impasse between the three controversial candidates and the international community, which among others, has promised 60 million U. S. dollars for the vote.

The Independent National Election Commission (CENIT) will issue the new date for the election on July 16 with UN experts if nothing changes at the latest time.

CENIT President Atallah Beatrice said election is feasible in 2013, but it depends also on politics.

Madagascar, which has been in a political crisis since 2009, is expected to move out of its shadow through the proposed polls. But the impasse over the candidacy must be resolved to hold the election, analysts say.

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