Leader of Madagascar’s national assembly calls for election to be suspended

By Lovasoa Rabary

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – The leader of Madagascar’s lower house of parliament called on Friday for the presidential election, whose first round is scheduled for Nov. 16, to be suspended, saying conditions for the vote had not been met.

Despite not having legal weight, Christine Razanamahasoa’s appeal signals the deepening isolation of President Andry Rajoelina, whose opponents have held weeks of daily marches in the capital that police dispersed with tear gas.

“The required and necessary conditions for an election in accordance with the law… are not met,” Razanamahasoa said in a statement. “The electoral process should be suspended.”

The two bodies that could postpone the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the High Constitutional Court, did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Rajoelina ascended to power in a 2009 coup, prompting an exodus of foreign investors from the Indian Ocean island. This month he is running against a dozen candidates, including two ex-presidents, Marc Ravalomanana and Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Opposition parties claim Rajoelina should be prevented from running because he acquired French nationality in 2014 – which they say automatically revokes his Malagasy citizenship.

Rajoelina says the constitution does not require the head of state to exclusively hold Malagasy nationality, and that any loss of nationality is subject to signed authorization by the government.

The opposition have also called for changes to the officials running the electoral commission and for the formation of a special court to hear election disputes.

Madagascar is aiming for its third peaceful election since the upheaval of 2009 when Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; writing by Giulia Paravicini; editing by Hereward Holland and Marl Heinrich)