August 1, 2018 / 6:53 PM / 3 months ago

Madagascar's former leader Andry Rajoelina says to seek presidency again

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar’s former leader Andry Rajoelina said on Wednesday that he will stand in the Indian Ocean island’s presidential election at the end of the year, in a race likely to pit him against the incumbent, Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

FILE PHOTO - Madagascar's outgoing president Andry Rajoelina addresses guests during the handover ceremony at Iavoloha Presidential Palace in the capital Antananarivo, January 24, 2014. REUTERS/John Friedrich Rabenandro

The election will be held over two rounds in November December, the prime minister said in June.

That announcement followed an earlier court-ordered naming of a new cabinet by Rajaonarimampianina aimed at making the government more inclusive and ending a political crisis.

“I am ready to devote my life to the nation,” Rajoelina told his supporters in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo during a meeting.

“I officially declare that I am running in the presidential election,” he added.

A 2009 coup prompted an exodus of foreign investors from Madagascar, which remains one of the world’s poorest countries despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals

Rajoelina has already submitted his application to participate in the poll to the High Constitutional Court, a senior court official told Reuters.

The former leader is the first candidate to officially apply. Another previous president, Marc Ravalomanana, and Rajaonarimampianina are also widely expected to run in the poll.

The three men - popularly known by locals as the accountant, the DJ and the milkman in reference to their respective previous jobs - control three separate and often deeply divided political factions.

Should Rajaonarimampianina choose to participate, Madagascar’s electoral rules require him to first resign two months before the poll.

Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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