Madagascar will hold a much-delayed presidential election on May 8 next year, a key step in ending the crisis sparked by a March 2009 coup, the electoral commission announced Wednesday.
"May 8 will be the first round of the presidential election. On July 3, the second round of the presidential election will be held alongside legislative elections," commission chief Beatrice Atallah said.
UN experts suggested the vote be held in May or June 2013 in crisis-hit Madagascar, six months after the date originally mooted by the electoral commission.
The panel had initialy suggested December, a rainy month in Madagascar.
The Indian Ocean island, which has been mired in a political crisis since March 2009, when former president Marc Ravalomanana was ousted by the current strongman Andry Rajoelina, had roped in UN experts to help it organise the polls.
Local government elections will take place on October 23.
Madagascar's main political factions signed an accord in September 2011 to set up a roadmap to guide the vast island to elections.
Ravalomanana has since his ouster lived in exile in South Africa.
The conditions of his return are seen as one of the key steps in efforts to lift the impoverished nation out of a dragging political crisis and are being discussed by the two rivals under the aegis of the regional bloc SADC.
Atallah, flanked by the UN resident coordoinator Fatmah Samourahle and Prime Minister Omer Beriziky, appealed to the international community to lift economic sanctions imposed on Madagascar.© ANP/AFP