Madagascar prepares for elections

2012-03-27 09:24
Antananarivo - Madagascar's new electoral commission on Monday asked for the UN experts to come quickly to help organise polls by the end of the year and to haul the nation out of a three-year-old crisis.

"I cannot announce the election date before the UN experts arrive, but elections must be held this year," the commission's chief Beatrice Atallah told AFP.

By law, the commission has 60 days after taking up its offices to set the election calendar, in conjunction with international experts. The council of ministers must also sign off on the date.

The island's current strongman Andry Rajoelina seized power in a March 2009 coup, ousting the last elected president Marc Ravalomanana. Rajoelina on Friday promised that his "transitional" government would end this year.

He made a similar promise last year.

Madagascar's main political factions signed a "roadmap" in September to install a transitional unity government to guide the vast Indian Ocean island to new elections.

Among the main obstacles is an amnesty law that would allow Ravalomanana's return from exile in South Africa.

The former leader was sentenced in absentia to life in prison and hard labour for the death of 30 opposition protesters killed by his presidential guard in February 2009.

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