Madagascar’s army-backed president has said he could pardon his predecessor Marc Ravalomanana in a move that could block the exiled former leader from contesting future elections.

Madagascar has been shaken by political instability since Andry Rajoelina toppled Ravalomanana in March, branding him corrupt and dictatorial. The power grab alarmed foreign investors, spooked tourists and stunted economic growth.

“It is within my powers to issue a pardon, but I haven’t thought about it much yet,” he said late on Friday in an interview with selected journalists.

A Madagascar court last month sentenced Ravalomanana in absentia to four years in jail for abuse of office in the purchase of a $60 million presidential jet.

The former president called the charges unfounded.

“While a pardon erases the sentence, it does not annul the crime. If the crime is not scrubbed out it is likely he would not be eligible to stand as a candidate,” constitutional law expert Jean Eric Rakotoarisoa told Reuters.

Distanced from a faltering peace process, Ravalomanana looks increasingly unlikely to regain the presidency as time entrenches the 35-year-old Rajoelina.


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