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France Won't Recognize Madagascar Vote Unless Candidates Withdraw

This combination of file pictures created on June 5, 2013 shows Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka.
France will not recognize the results of proposed presidential elections in Madagascar until three candidates, including the interim president, withdraw from the process, foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said on Monday.

The former French colony has been in political crisis since 2009 when President Andry Rajoelina seized power with military support, ousting former President Marc Ravalomanana and triggering turmoil that scared off investors and devastated the vital tourism sector.

The Indian Ocean nation's government said last week it was postponing the vote by a month to Aug. 23 after the electoral commission said it could not hold the ballot because foreign donors had suspended financing due to Rajoelina's volte-face on a promise not to run.

Speaking in a daily briefing to reporters, Lalliot said Rajoelina, Lalao Ravalomanana, the wife of a former president, and another ex-president, Didier Ratsiraka, should step aside as demanded by the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"France is following with concern and disappointment the latest political developments in Madagascar," he said. "France will not recognize the results of these elections if these three candidates persist in taking part."

He added that the three were banned from entering France.

Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, the man he unseated from power, both bowed to regional pressure in January and agreed not to run in the election.

But Rajoelina said in May the deal was broken when Lalao, said she would run. Ravalomanana's allies said they wanted the election to go ahead as scheduled.

Social indicators in Madagascar have worsened since the crisis, with 77 percent of households now living below the poverty line, one of the highest rates in Africa.

An international contact group of nations, including France, are due to meet in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on June 26 to decide how to resolve the crisis.