Madagascar election: Lalao Ravalomanana bids to stand

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Marc Ravalomanana and his wife Lalao after being sworn in in 2002Image source, AFP
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Could Lalao Ravalomanana's candidacy pave the way for her husband's return?

The wife of Madagascar's ousted President Marc Ravalomanana has filed her papers to stand in July's election.

One of the former leader's allies said Lalao Ravalomanana was their "natural candidate".

Mr Ravalomanana was forced from power in 2009 by supporters of Andry Rajoelina, backed by the army, plunging the island nation into four years of political turmoil.

Under regional pressure, both men agreed not to contest the poll.

Mrs Ravalomanana's candidacy must be approved by the electoral court.

The AFP news agency notes that she has not lived in Madagascar, as required by the law.

She fled to South Africa with her husband after he was forced from power.

The authorities have blocked several attempts by the couple to return, fearing unrest, AFP says, adding that she was allowed into the country in March to be with her sick mother.

"As President Ravalomanana cannot stand in the presidential election, his wife is our natural candidate," Mamy Rakotoarivelo, member of parliament and former close associate of Mr Ravalomanana, told the Reuters news agency.

"It should allow us to regain the power that was seized in an illegal manner."

Political commentator Toavina Ralambomahay condemned the move as a "trick" to enable the former leader to regain power.