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US urges Madagascar to hold credible elections

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United States on Friday urged Madagascar to organize credible presidential elections a day after the polls were again postponed amid controversy and financial problems.

"We call on the country's political leaders to work toward free, fair and internationally recognized elections that restore democratic rule," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The government of the Indian Ocean island on Thursday postponed the polls aimed at ending a four-year political deadlock until August 23 because the presence of controversial candidates derailed plans to hold the vote in July.

Initially, the elections had been due to go ahead in May.

Madagascar has been in limbo since current strongman Andry Rajoelina, a former disc jockey and ex-mayor of the capital Antananarivo, seized power from then-president Marc Ravalomanana in 2009.

Under an internationally brokered roadmap aimed at steering the nation back to constitutional rule, neither politician should run in the new elections.

But when Ravalomanana's businesswoman wife Lalao announced she would stand, Rajoelina declared his candidacy as well.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on both, as well as a third contentious candidate, former president Didier Ratsiraka, to pull out of the race, threatening to withdraw UN support in organizing the poll.

The African Union has called the trio's candidatures "illegitimate" and vowed not to recognize their victory should any of them win.

Psaki said all outstanding "political and technical issues need to be addressed, including full implementation of" the road map drawn up in September 2011 by the Southern African Development Community.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130607/us-urges-madagascar-hold-credible-elections