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New president 'will not stand in next election', say diplomats

Madagascar's new President Andry Rajoelina will not stand in the next election, according to diplomats, although a senior aide to the president denied the reports, insisting Rajoelina had not commented either way.

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Reuters - Madagascar's new President Andry Rajoelina will not stand in the next election, diplomats said on Tuesday, but a senior aide denied the report, saying the army-backed leader had not commented either way.

 

Months of political instability on the world's fourth largest island have devastated its $390 million-a-year tourism sector and caused concern among foreign investors exploring potentially vast oil and mineral reserves.

 

"He called us together and announced he would not present himself for election at the next presidential poll," one diplomat said.

 
 The government denied that.
 

"He said nothing like that," a senior aide to Rajoelina said. "The president has not spoken of his candidacy up to now."

 

The African Union (AU) and South African Development Community -- which both branded Rajoelina's rise to power a coup and suspended Madagascar from their ranks -- have called for elections to be held this year.

 

The AU said last month that all parties had agreed to hold the election by the end of 2009, but the next day the government itself refused to guarantee that a vote would be held by then.

 

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