At least 45 candidates have filed papers to compete with incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar in the Nov. 7, 2018 presidential election.
All the 46 candidates, including the President, have submitted their bids to the Madagascar’s High Constitutional Court (HCC).
Three former presidents, Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana and Didier Ratsiraka are expected face off in the race.
Ravalomanana ruled the island nation from 2002 until 2009 before being ousted by the then Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina in a military-backed coup.
Ratsiraka ruled Madagascar from 1975 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 2002.
Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were barred from contesting in the 2013 election, which Mr Rajaonarimampianina won, in an attempt to end a long-standing political crisis.
Other notable names in the race include Ms Fanirosoa Ernaivo the country’s magistrates’ union chair; National Assembly Speaker Jean-Max Rakotomamonjy; Philippe Madiomanana Tsiranana, son of former president Philibert Tsiranana; and former ICC Judge Arlette Ramaroson.
Former prime minister Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana — who resigned in June under pressure— has also thrown his hat in the ring.
However, ten submissions were dismissed as they did not meet minimum qualifications.
It is the first time many candidates are seeking to contest for Madagascar’s top seat.
“Such a plethora of candidacies has never been seen in the modern history of Madagascar,” observed Ms Hanitra Razafimanantsoa, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
“This is a blooper. I am suspecting sabotage during the electoral process,” said Ms Ketakandrina Rafitoson, a young political scientist.
The HCC will publish full list of eligible candidates to run the in the first round of the elections on August 26.
A run-off slated for December should none of the candidates attain 50 per cent of the vote.