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Madagascar Opposition Call for Poll Boycott

Madagascar’s Collectif de Dix opposition coalition of 10 parties has called on voters to boycott Thursday’s presidential election amid worsening political tension.

Ten of the 13 presidential candidates registered for the election have been demanding an overhaul of the country’s highest court and the electoral commission before the polls take place.

They allege that incumbent President Andry Rajoelina, who is seeking re-election, is ineligible because of the French citizenship he acquired in 2014, an accusation he has dismissed.

The leader of the lower house of parliament, who is a member of the president’s own party, has also called for the vote to be suspended as the conditions were not right.

Over the past six weeks, hundreds of opposition supporters have continued to hold banned marches in the capital, Antananarivo, which police have routinely dispersed using teargas.

They have also arrested some opposition supporters.

Mr Rajoelina has urged the public to ignore boycott calls and to turn out in large numbers on Thursday.

He asked them to allow him to finish “the development work he begun during his first term”.

“The Malagasy people do not want any more destabilisation… we really don’t want another crisis,” he told thousands of supporters of his political party Young Malagasy People Ready, the Reuters news agency reported.

The EU and the US have expressed “deep concern” about the political tension ahead of the poll.

Constitutional Court head Florent Rakotoarisoa has appealed for calm and urged people to resolve their differences through the ballot box.

A candidate needs to take more than half the votes cast to be declared winner, otherwise there will be a second round on 20 December.

Source: BBC