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Campaigning kicks off ahead of key Madagascar polls

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Supporters of ousted Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana hold their weekly Saturday gathering on September 14, 2014. Madagascar's election campaign opened Tuesday ahead of presidential polls next month, as divisions over replacement candidates plagued the camps of major disqualified politicians. (AFP/File)

Madagascar's election campaign opened Tuesday ahead of presidential polls next month, as divisions over replacement candidates plagued the camps of major disqualified politicians.

Campaigning will last a month and finish a day before the October 24 poll meant to end a four-year political crisis on the Indian Ocean island sparked when strongman Andry Rajoelina ousted then-president Marc Ravalomanana in a coup.

But supporters are divided over new candidates after Rajoelina and Ravalomanana's wife Lalao, along with a few others, were barred from running under international pressure.

After the presidential polls, a parliamentary vote will follow on December 20, along with a second presidential round if the October election does not deliver an outright winner.

The new dates were reached following two earlier postponements amid a lack of funding and controversy over the candidacies of three top contenders.

An electoral court last month disqualified Rajoelina, Lalao Ravalomanana, and a former president after the three refused to withdraw from the presidential race.

Their candidacies, which did not meet electoral rules, had been widely condemned.