Madagascar poll date set

2010-09-21 20:01

Antananarivo - Madagascar's transitional government will hold local elections on December 20, a statement on Tuesday following a cabinet meeting said.

"Elections for councillors and mayors will be held on Monday 20 December," the statement said.

The announcement follows a chorus of complaints over one of the resolutions adopted last week by the conference that was tasked with drawing up strategies to lift the Indian Ocean island out of its political crisis.

The resolution stipulated that mayors and local councillors countrywide should be removed and replaced by transition officials, in all likelihood dignataries closer to the island's strongman Andry Rajoelina.

Observers say Rajoelina decided to backtrack on the controversial resolution after realising many of the officials he wanted to remove have big business interests and that it was not in his interest to antagonise them.

Last week's conference was supposed to be the first step in a transition process leading up to presidential elections in May 2011. But this process does not have the backing of either the hard-line opposition or the international community.

Madagascar has been in crisis since March 2009 when Rajoelina, then mayor of Antananarivo, overthrew the president Marc Ravalomanana with the backing of the army.

The last local elections in Madagascar were in December 2007 when Rajoelina took control of Antananarivo city hall, a post considered to be a trampoline onto the political scene.