Madagascar’s electoral court has barred the incumbent president, Andry Rajoelina, and the wife of a long-standing rival from contesting the next presidential election.
The decision by Mr Rajoelina and Lalao Ravalomanana, the wife of the Indian Ocean island’s previous leader, unseated by Mr Rajoelina in a 2009 coup, to stand in the election led to aid donors suspending financing for the poll.
As a result, the vote has been delayed by a month to 23 August, and analysts say there are now doubts whether it will happen at all.
The court also struck another former president, Didier Ratsiraka, from the list of candidates.
The African Union (AU), the South African Development Community (SADC) and key donors such as France and the European Union had applied heavy pressure to try to prevent the candidacies.
In 2009, when Mr Rajoelina, a former DJ, seized power from Marc Ravalomanana with support from the military, Madagascar slid into turmoil that scared off investors and hurt the vital tourism industry. Foreign donors froze budget support and the AU suspended Madagascar’s membership.
Both men agreed in January not to contest the election. However, Mr Rajoelina accused Lalao Ravalomanana of breaking this deal when she put herself forward as a candidate in April and he then rejoined the presidential race.