Madagascar Ex-President Urges Postponement of November Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Madagascar’s former military ruler Didier Ratsiraka urged the authorities to postpone this year’s presidential vote, questioning the legality of the electoral process.

Ratsiraka, an 81-year-old naval admiral, said the Indian Ocean island nation should be governed by a transitional authority to prepare the country for the vote, he told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Antananarivo. The constitution is unclear about the rules that need to be followed in the ballot, Ratsiraka said.

“I can’t just remain a spectator watching Madagascar die,” he said. “It would be like not assisting a country in danger.”

Elections in Madagascar tend to trigger periods of instability. The last vote in 2013, the first after a military takeover in 2009, was held two years behind schedule because of repeated delays. In 2002, former President Marc Ravalomanana triggered a political crisis when he declared himself president without waiting for a runoff after a disputed vote.

Madagascar, almost twice the size of Arizona, is the world’s biggest producer of vanilla. The prospective oil producer plans to auction offshore blocks. Companies including Sumitomo Group and Rio Tinto Group have mining interests in the country.

Ratsiraka, known as Deba, or big man, first became president of Madagascar after a coup in 1975, ruling until 1993. He was elected for another five-year term in 1997. Thirty-six candidates are registered to compete for the presidency in the forthcoming election.

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