United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the decision by the President of the Transition in Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, not to run in the forthcoming presidential elections planned for May this year, according to the spokesperson for the world body's chief.
"President Rajoelina's decision, as well as the earlier pledge by former President Marc Ravalomanana, should help facilitate the conduct of free and credible elections to bring an end to the transition," the spokesperson added in a statement issued on Wednesday night.
"It will be important to uphold the electoral calendar adopted by the National Independent Electoral Commission of the Transition," the statement continued. "It is also critical that the 2011 roadmap to end the crisis, particularly provisions related to confidence-building measures, is fully implemented."
In 2011, the Indian Ocean nation's political parties signed the roadmap in an agreement brokered by mediators from the Southern African Development Community, and which allowed for the unconditional return from exile of Mr. Ravalomanana, deposed in a 2009 coup led by President Rajoelina after weeks of unrest.
A previous power-sharing deal reached by Madagascar's main political groups in late 2009 foundered before it could be implemented.
In a meeting held on the margins of the UN General Assembly's high-level debate in late September last year, the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, and President Rajoelina had discussed the implementation of the roadmap and the preparations for the 2013 elections.
At that meeting, the President - echoing comments made before the Assembly - had also emphasized the need for support from the international community in the organization of free and fair elections in the country.
In the statement, Mr. Ban's spokesperson also noted that the United Nations stands ready to continue supporting the Government and the Malagasy people.