Antananarivo - The African Union (AU) has said it will not
recognise Andry Rajoelina as Madagascar's president if he wins July's
presidential election, piling more pressure on the incumbent leader not to
Rajoelina plunged the country into a still-unresolved
political crisis in 2009 when he seized power with military support in what the
AU called a coup. The ensuing turmoil has stunted foreign investment and badly
hurt economic growth.
Following the AU's pronouncement, France and the European
Union said they were suspending funding of the election, Madagascar's election
commission (CENIT) said.
In a statement after a late-night meeting on Thursday, the
AU's Peace and Security Council said: "Perpetrators of unconstitutional
change of government cannot participate in the elections organised to restore democratic
"Council stresses that the AU will not recognise the
Malagasy authorities which would be elected in violation of the relevant AU and
SADC [Southern African Development Community] decisions," it added.
Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, the man he unseated from
power, both bowed to regional pressure in January and pledged not to stand in
the election, in a deal brokered by the SADC.
But Rajoelina, 38, said this month that deal was broken when
the wife of Ravalomanana, Lalao Ravalomana, said she would run.
The AU called the candidacies of Rajoelina, Lalao
Ravalomanana and former president Didier Ratsiraka "illegitimate",
indicating the bloc would not recognise any of the trio as a legitimate leader.
Rajoelina's volte-face has raised political and economic
uncertainty on the island, a source of oil, gold, chrome, uranium, cobalt,
nickel and ilmenite.
Rajoelina, Lalao Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka ignored a
request from the SADC last week to withdraw their candidacies.
"The EU and France are suspending their funding
contributions," Charly Venty, the chief of staff to the CENIT's president, said on Friday. "This will of course disrupt preparations."