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Christian Ntsay New Madagascar PM vows 'free' elections

Madagascar's new Prime Minister Christian Ntsay vowed Thursday that elections would be "transparent" and "free" after the Constitutional Court had ordered the formation of a "consensus" government to stage the polls by year's end.

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Hundreds of protesters march through the streets of Antananarivo earlier this month to demonstrate against the new government which is supposed to organise elections by the end of this year play

Hundreds of protesters march through the streets of Antananarivo earlier this month to demonstrate against the new government which is supposed to organise elections by the end of this year

(AFP)

Madagascar's new Prime Minister Christian Ntsay vowed Thursday that elections would be "transparent" and "free" after the Constitutional Court had ordered the formation of a "consensus" government to stage the polls by year's end.

The Indian Ocean island nation had been in the grip of a growing crisis over proposed electoral reforms that triggered mass protests and led the court to order a care-taker government to organise a fresh ballot.

"A transparent and free election is our main priority," said Ntsay in parliament which has just resumed normal business after several months of instability.

He added that the government would not stop "anyone from (contesting) the election" and would soon publish the law formally mandating the polls.

The original draft of the electoral laws prompted widespread protests with opposition supporters accusing President Heri Rajaonarimampianina of seeking to favour his party. Those demonstrations evolved into calls for the president to resign.

To avert the breakdown of Madagascar's political system, the Constitutional Court last month ordered the appointment of a government representative of all parties and capable of organising polls by the end of the year.

The court also ruled that the polls should be held during the island's dry season which is between now and October -- but no specific date was given.

President Rajaonarimampianina has yet to say whether he will seek re-election in the polls which will be contested by two of his predecessors and arch-rivals Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.

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