Madagascar strongman registers for election

Madagascar's president Andry Rajoelina has registered as a candidate for upcoming elections, documents showed Friday, despite an earlier vow to step aside in a bid to end the island's political crisis.

A list of presidential candidates published by the Special Electorial Court showed Rajoelina, who came to power in a 2009 coup, among the 41 approved candidates for the July 24 vote.

In January the 38-year-old former disc jockey said he would step back from the race, as a way of breaking Madagascar's crippling political deadlock.

Rajoelina deposed his arch-rival and predecessor Marc Ravalomanana in a military-backed coup. That resulted in international isolation and tense power politics.

Ravalomanana has made a similar vow not to run, although his wife Lalao was also listed among the 41 candidates.

Also on the list was recently returned former president Didier Ratsiraka, who like Lalao Ravalomanana recently came back from exile.

Nicknamed "Deba", the Malagasy word for "boss" or "bad guy", Ratsiraka was in power from 1975 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 2002.

He fled to France following a post-election dispute which sparked violence and chaos when he refused to concede defeat to Marc Ravalomanana.

In 2003, Ratsiraka was sentenced in absentia to hard labour, five years in jail for threatening state security and 10 years for embezzling public funds.

The impasse split the vast island nation in two -- with two capitals, two governments, and a divided army -- until Ravalomanana was officially proclaimed president in May 2002.

The elections are supposed to draw a line under the island's current political difficulties.