Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina will stand for re-election in July, despite earlier assurances that he would not run to help return stability to the Indian Ocean island nation.

A showdown looms between Rajoelina and the wife of former president Marc Ravalomanana who are among the 41 presidential candidates who were approved by the Special Elections Court on Friday. Former President Didier Ratsiraka and two former prime ministers are among other candidates approved.

Rajoelina defended his decision to run for re-election, although regional leaders have urged him and Ravalomanana not to stand for election. Rajoelina said he decided to run because the candidacy of Ravalomanana's wife, Lalao, is the same as Ravalomanana running himself. The island of 20 million people has been in political turmoil since Rajoelina seized power in 2009.