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Madagascar opposition denounce "illegitimate electoral process"

Opposition leaders at a rally   -  
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RIJASOLO/AFP or licensors


A collective of opposition candidates taking part in the Madagascan presidential elections have held a major rally in the capital, Antananarivo, denouncing what they described as “an illegitimate electoral process.

Some 50,000 people attended the gathering called for the by the "Collective of Eleven", as they call themselves.

They say the electoral process is being orchestrated to ensure the victory of outgoing President Andry Rajoelina, who is standing for re-election.

"You know, it’s not easy to fill 50,000 seats. People need weeks and months to prepare. We said we're sure, we've convinced people, we’ve got people behind us,” said former president and presidential candidate, Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Last month the Constitutional Court dismissed appeals to have Rajoelina's candidacy declared void over his dual French nationality, sparking opposition anger.

Ravaozandry Soa Fiavinirina, a supporter of the "Collective of 11" candidates at the rally says people do not want “foreigners” running the country.

“Because it's only foreigners who are getting rich here. Look at our economy. We're not getting rich, we're getting poor,” she said.

“That's why I'm protesting today. Even though I'm already old, I'm going on strike for you, for my children, and for my descendants."

With less than a month before the polls, opposition candidates are taking part in almost daily unauthorised protest marches in the capital.

The president of Madagascar's national assembly, Christine Razanamahasoa, who is close to government, said on Tuesday that the country was "at an impasse".

"Our country is in bad shape, our people are suffering, and we are the cause of this failure,” she told opposition MPs.

Razanamahasoa warned that the seeds of a “fratricidal war are visible and continue to grow" and said she would go "where there will be a way out of the crisis in the supreme interest of the nation".

Others close to Rajoelina have also began to urge conciliation.

Opposition MPs have also called for the resignation of the prime minister, Christian Ntsay, an ally of Rajoelina who has been put in charge of a disputed interim government ahead of the election period.

The position should normally have been held by the president of the Senate who declined for "personal reasons".

Voters were initially due to head to the polls on 9 November, but the country’s top court last week ordered that the elections be postponed by one week to 16 November.

Representatives of the EU, US, and several other countries and international organisations have issued a statement saying they were watching the election run-up with the "greatest vigilance".

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