By John Ikani
A Madagascar court has ordered a one-week delay in the island’s November election.
Incumbent President Andry Rajoelina has openly opposed the ruling.
The High Constitutional Court, in a statement on its website, announced the shift of the first round of the election from November 9 to November 16 while keeping the second round on December 20. They did not provide any specific reasons for this alteration.
Soava Andriamarotafika, the spokesperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission, welcomed the postponement as it allowed them more time to prepare for the vote.
“This one-week postponement lightens our workload and the pace a little for the first round. We should be able to breathe a little. But it is true that for the second round, we have to pick up the pace a little,” he explained.
Madagascar is striving for its third peaceful election since the turmoil in 2009 when Rajoelina ousted then-president Marc Ravalomanana in a coup.
In early September, Rajoelina resigned after being confirmed as a candidate for the upcoming poll, in accordance with Madagascar’s constitution, which mandates that a sitting head of state who wishes to run in a presidential election must first step down.
It is important to note that this court ruling is unrelated to a request by another presidential candidate, Andry Raobelina, who sought to postpone the vote due to what he described as “force majeure” after sustaining injuries during a recent protest, which required him to seek medical attention in Mauritius.
Rajoelina expressed his discontent with the change, stating that it did not suit him or his party, during a campaign rally in Ambanja, located in the north of Madagascar.
The 11 candidates competing against Rajoelina have been conducting daily marches in the capital, which have been routinely dispersed by the police using teargas.
These demonstrators are demanding changes to the officials overseeing the election commission and the formation of a special court to address election disputes. They are also calling for Rajoelina’s disqualification from the race, citing his alleged non-Madagascan citizenship, an accusation he has previously rejected.