In Madagascar, on Monday, September 11th, the 13 candidates for the presidential election, or their representatives, conducted the official drawing of their ballot numbers. These numbers will appear on the single ballot, campaign billboards, and even on candidate-themed t-shirts distributed throughout the campaign.
The drawing was conducted at the Independent National Electoral Commission (Céni) in the presence of legal witnesses. However, the result of this seemingly routine procedure was overshadowed by a new wave of controversy surrounding the interim presidency, which is currently being held not by the President of the Senate, as prescribed by the Constitution, but by the Prime Minister and a collegiate government.
In a packed room, immediately following the ballot number drawing, tensions began to rise. Several candidates voiced their vehement objection to the decision made by the High Constitutional Court (HCC) just two days earlier. The HCC had appointed the government and its Prime Minister as the interim head of state following the resignation of the President of the Senate.
“The Constitution cannot compel an individual who wishes to resign or relinquish a duty outlined in the Constitution to adhere to it,” argued the President of the HCC, responding to mounting questions.
Former President Marc Ravalomanana, who is also a presidential candidate, left the room in exasperation, stating, “A President of the Senate is an elected official, even if elected solely by senators. One cannot simply appoint someone else in this manner. It’s an institutional coup.”
The debate over the interpretation of constitutional provisions has ignited a contentious debate among political circles in Madagascar. As the nation gears up for a crucial presidential election, the issue of presidential interim appointment threatens to remain a prominent point of contention. It remains to be seen how this dispute will impact the electoral process and the political landscape of Madagascar in the coming weeks.