, ANTANANARIVO, Aug 22 – Madagascar will hold a much delayed presidential election on October 25, organisers said Thursday, in a vote designed to end a deep political crisis prompted by a coup four years ago.
Parliamentary elections will follow on December 20, along with a second presidential round if the October vote does not deliver an outright winner, the electoral commission said.
The new dates follow two earlier postponements amid a lack of funding and controversy over the candidacies of three top contenders.
An electoral court on Saturday dropped the names of strongman Andry Rajoelina, the wife of his exiled rival Marc Ravalomanana, and a former president after the three refused to withdraw from the presidential race.
Former disc jockey Rajoelina ousted president Ravalomanana in an army backed coup in 2009, plunging the Indian Ocean island nation in a protracted crisis.
Ravalomanana, a milk mogul who is living in exile in South Africa, has been blocked several times from returning home.
The poll will be one year behind schedule according to a 2011 agreement to return to political stability brokered by regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Rajoelina, formerly also mayor of the capital Antananarivo, swore not to run for president, but threw his hat in the ring when Ravalomanana’s wife Lalao declared she would be a candidate.
Both pose a legal problem, since Rajoelina submitted his candidacy after the deadline and Lalao Ravalomanana had not lived in Madagascar six months prior to the nominations as election rules require.
Another potential front runner, former leader Didier Ratsiraka filed his candidacy papers two days after he returned from 11 years of exile in France.