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Madagascar court drops three disputed presidential candidates

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A combination of file pictures made on June 5, 2013 shows Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka. Madagascar's electoral court has removed the names of three presidential hopefuls whose candidacies had delayed key elections on the Indian Ocean island, a roll published on August 17, 2013 showed. (AFP/File)

Madagascar's electoral court has removed the names of three presidential hopefuls whose candidacies had delayed key elections on the Indian Ocean island, a roll published Saturday showed.

Missing from the list published on the court's website was the nation's strongman Andry Rajoelina, ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana's wife Lalao, and former president Didier Ratsiraka.

Their candidacies have been internationally condemned.

The presidential election -- meant to end a four-year political deadlock -- has been repeatedly put on hold amid controversy over the candidacies of the three frontrunners.

The three had refused to stand aside even in the face of threats of sanctions.

Madagascar has been mired in political limbo since Rajoelina, a former disc jockey and ex-mayor of the capital Antananarivo, seized power in 2009.

He swore not to run for president but threw his hat in the race when the wife of his exiled rival Ravalomanana declared she would be a candidate.

Both pose a legal problem, since Rajoelina applied after the deadline and Lalao Ravalomanana has not lived in Madagascar six months prior to the nominations, as the election rules require.

Ratsiraka had also filed his candidacy papers two days after he returned from 11 years of exile in France.