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Election law could block Madagascar’s exiled leader

Ousted Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana, pictured in January 2012 (© 2009 AFP)

Draft legislation in Madagascar banning convicted criminals from standing in elections could prevent exiled former president Marc Ravalomanana from making a comeback in next year’s presidential poll.

In a copy of the document obtained by AFP, candidates “convicted of crimes or offences” will not be able to stand in elections.

The text stipulates that “individuals who are convicted and not pardoned are neither eligible as candidates nor can vote” thereby excluding Ravalomanana who faces life in prison in Madagascar.

The ex-president was sentenced in absentia in 2010 for the murders of around 30 protestors killed by his presidential guard in 2009 in protests that led to his overthrow by Andry Rajoelina in an army-backed coup.

Ravalomanana subsequently fled to South Africa where he has lived in exile ever since.

However, the guilty verdict could be rendered invalid as the court that sentenced him was not senior enough to judge a president, according to the rules of Madagascar’s constitution.

But the draft election law poses two further problems for Ravalomanana: candidates must be resident in Madagascar in the six months leading up to an election and have paid “all taxes of any kind” in the previous three years. Although its offices were destroyed three years ago, Ravalomanana’s agribusiness company Tiko still owes tens of millions of euros in unpaid taxes.

A report by the United Nations has recommended that twin presidential and legislative elections take place in May or June next year.

Ravalomanana has repeatedly announced his return to Madagascar but has yet to set foot back on the vast Indian Ocean island.

Signature : ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AFP)

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