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Rajoelina's regime sets 2010 date for presidential poll

Madagascar's army-backed transitional authority, led by Andry Rajoelina (photo), has called for the organisation of a presidential election in October 2010 during a reconciliation conference held in the capital Antananarivo.

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AFP - Fresh presidential elections in Madagascar are to be held in October 2010, a reconciliation conference organised by the island's new army-backed regime recommended Friday.

This conference "kicks off a democratic renewal and foreshadows the strength of the democracy we want to preserve in Madagascar," the island's new leader Andry Rajoelina said in the conference's closing speech.

Rajoelina, who ousted Marc Ravalomanana last month with the army's support, had pledged upon being sworn in that fresh presidential elections would be organised within 24 months.

"We acknowledge that we will stay (in power) only for 19 months," Rajoelina said at the forum, held in the capital Madagascar.

On the second and last day of a conference involving Rajoelina's movement as well as other political parties, religious and military leaders, resolutions were adopted offering a timeline for the country's transition.

Although Rajoelina's takeover at the helm of the Indian Ocean nation was described as a coup by the international community, the 34-year-old was sworn in last month as the president of a transitional authority.

Friday's forum -- which gathered some 1,200 participants -- said a national conference tasked with revising the electoral law and the constitution should be launched by June 26 this year.

Rajoelina -- a former disc jockey who rose to prominence in 2007 when he was elected mayor of Antananarivo and only became the country's undisputed opposition leader earlier this year -- is six years too young to run for president under the current constitution.

Friday's recommendations said that the new draft constitution should be submitted to a popular referendum in September.

Other measures decided by the meeting included the creation of an economic committee tasked with revitalising the island's economy.

Madagascar is one of the world's poorest countries and Rajoelina's three-month campaign to unseat Ravalomanana focused on combatting poverty and economic nepotism.

The meeting also recommended the "creation of an armed forces committee tasked with preserving the armed forces' unity and reinforcing public order and security."

The African Union and the Southern African Development Community have suspended Madagascar, demanding a swift return to constitutional order.

Ravalomanana fled the country after resigning under military pressure and his supporters have staged several protests in recent days, demanding that Rajoelina bow to international pressure and step down.

Ravalomanana's own political movement boycotted the reconciliation talks organised by the new regime and held a parallel conference, which was attended by hundreds of participants.
 

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