Madagascar mulls early vote to end political crisis

Police forces guard the Senate building during an anti-government demonstration of opposition deputies and supporters in Antananarivo in April 2018

Police forces guard the Senate building during an anti-government demonstration of opposition deputies and supporters in Antananarivo in April 2018

Madagascar’s electoral commission on Tuesday proposed bringing forward general elections in a bid to defuse a political crisis which has gripped the country since April.

The elections had been originally scheduled for year’s end.

“According to… the constitution, it is possible to hold an early election,” the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Hery Rakotomanana, told reporters.

“If this solution is acceptable to everyone (government and opposition), then CENI proposes August 29, 2018 for the first round of the presidential election,” he said.

Since April 21, hundreds of opposition supporters have occupied the May 13 Square in the heart of the capital, demanding the resignation of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

The president, who was elected in 2013, has not stated whether or not he will run for another term.

Opposition protests were sparked by the passing of new electoral laws which they said were loaded in Rajaonarimampianina’s favour and accused the government of trying to force them out of the race.

The country’s top court last week tossed out parts of the controversial new electoral legislation.

At least two people were killed on the first day of the opposition protests.

The electoral commission has called a meeting of all parties in the crisis to discuss its proposal to hold early presidential and legislative elections.

In January, the electoral commission said the elections would be held between November 25 and December 25, although it is the government that fixes the precise date.

If the parties fail to agree on early polling, the electoral panel said it would propose organising the vote on November 28 or postpone it to May 29, 2019.

But the opposition has insisted they can only discuss election dates after the president has stepped down.

“It is the resignation of Hery Rajaonarimampianina and his team that we want,” said opposition lawmaker Hanitriniaina Razafimanantsoa.

“We will talk about elections after,” the MP told supporters who have kept a daily protest vigil for nearly three weeks.

 

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