President Andry Rajoelina broke his pledge not to run in Madagascar’s upcoming presidential election, once again throwing the political stability of the island nation into question.
Rajoelina, a former disc jockey who seized power during a 2009 military-backed coup, had promised not to stand in the election as a way to break the political standoff that has characterized his rule. But with his rivals — including the country’s former strongman and the wife of the president he displaced — entering the contest, Rajoelina reneged on his agreement not to run.
“To my great surprise I saw the former president (Marc Ravalomanana) was running for the presidential elections through his spouse,” he was quoted as saying by Radio France Internationale. “Former president Didier Ratsiraka is also running, so I said to myself, ‘its a free elections and should be transparent, why would I not run?'”
Rajoelina’s move may reignite the political crisis that has crippled Madagascar since 2009. Madagascar also endured a political crisis in 2002 when Ravalomanana was elected, but former president Ratsiraka, who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1975-1993 and 1997-2002, refused to leave office.
Under Rajoelina, Madagascar’s economy has stagnated with some investors afraid of making long-term commitments and foreign aid donors hamstrung by the non-democratic transition. Meanwhile, violent crime, illegal logging, and wildlife poaching have increased as people have sought other paths toward making a living.