By John Ikani
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has made known his intention to seek re-election in the upcoming November polls.
Rajoelina made the announcement during a grand ceremony held at the island’s largest stadium.
The presidential vote is scheduled for November 9.
Rajoelina originally came to power in 2009 following a coup that ousted former President Marc Ravalomanana.
In 2018, he returned to office after not contesting the 2013 election due to international pressure.
The 49-year-old leader, dressed in a white suit, confidently declared his candidacy in Antananarivo, the capital city.
He expressed his readiness to represent the people of Madagascar and be a president for all Malagasy citizens, emphasizing that the Constitution permits him to run for a second term.
The stage, adorned with flags featuring his image and large screens, hosted evangelical music groups and popular Malagasy singers before his speech.
Addressing thousands of supporters sporting the party’s orange and white colors at Barea stadium, where a tragic stampede occurred at the end of August, Rajoelina highlighted the significant infrastructure development accomplished during his presidency.
He proudly referred to himself as a “builder president,” citing the construction of schools, courts, and even prisons.
Despite facing challenges along the way, Rajoelina expressed his determination to continue working for Madagascar’s progress, stating that obstacles only motivate him to achieve more and promising victory in the upcoming election.
One issue that has raised questions recently is Rajoelina’s dual French nationality, which came to light through media reports in June. Under local law, the president could lose his Malagasy nationality since he was naturalized in France in 2014.
Losing his Malagasy nationality would disqualify him from leading the country or running for office, though the ruling party vehemently disputes this interpretation.
Andry Rajoelina, often referred to as “TGV” after his party’s name, Tanora malaGasy Vonona (Young Malagasies Determined), entered the political arena in 2007.
That year, he decisively defeated the party of then-President Ravalomanana to become the mayor of Antananarivo, the capital city. In 2009, with the implicit support of the army, he seized power from Ravalomanana, a 73-year-old millionaire with a background in the agri-food industry.
The international community condemned the coup d’état, and Ravalomanana, still not reconciled to his ousting, announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election in July.
Madagascar, often plagued by devastating storms, remains one of the world’s poorest countries despite its abundant natural resources. Approximately 80 percent of its 28 million population lives on less than $1.92 per day.