Madagascar will go to the polls on 7 November to choose a president for the next five years.
According to a proclamation made by Prime Minister Christian Ntsay, a second round of the election is set for 19 December if no candidate garners enough votes to be declared outright winner.
The Constitution of Madagascar requires that a presidential candidate garners 50 percent-plus-one of total votes cast in a national election to be declared as president.
A total of 36 candidates will contest for the presidency of the Indian Ocean island following approval by the High Constitutional Court (HCC).
These include the incumbent, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who was has been president since 2014.
Other candidates include three former presidents - Didier Ratsiraka, Marc Ravolamanana and Andry Rajoelina - who all were previously involved in military-backed coups to gain power, resulting in instability in the country.
In the last election held in 2013, the three former presidents were barred by the Special Electoral Court of Madagascar from taking part in the polls to prevent a repeat of the turmoil that had affected the island in previous years.
Other notable candidates are three former Prime Ministers. These are Olivier Solonandrasana, Jean Ravelonarivo and Jean Omer Beriziky.
From the presidential candidates, 31 are men and five are women, representing only 13.8 percent.
According to the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI-T) of Madagascar, a total of 9.9 million people have registered to vote in the elections.
The CENI-T said a total of 24,852 polling stations have been set up to facilitate smooth voting on Election Day.
The responsibilities for election administration in Madagascar are divided among the HCC, CENI-T and the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform (MIRA).
For example, the MIRA is responsible for organising elections while the CENI-T is charged with the supervision and oversight of the electoral process.
The HCC is responsible for the final verification and announcement of the results.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) to Madagascar on 29 October, headed by the Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Malanji.
The SEOM launch is at the invitation of the CENI-T of Madagascar and is consistent with provisions of the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
Malanji said a total of 53 observers from SADC will be deployed to 10 regions out of the 22 regions. The 10 regions are Analamanga, Diana, Sava, Analanjirofo, Anosy, Atsimo Andrefana, Haute Matsiatra, Vakinankaratra, Atsinanana and Amoron'I Mania.
He urged all stakeholders to ensure that the elections are held in conformity with national, regional and international standards to ensure lasting political stability to the country.
"I encourage all stakeholders to ensure that this presidential election is managed in a peaceful, free, fair, transparent and credible manner," he said.
"We look forward to an electoral process that adheres to adheres to adheres to democratic values and principles envisioned in our SADC Treaty, the Protocol of Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation; the Revised Protocol of Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation; the Revised Protocol of Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation; and the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections."
As per tradition, the SEOM will issue a statement after the elections on the conduct of the poll.
The SEOM is expected to interact with other regional and international missions invited by Madagascar to monitor the elections such as the Africa Union and the European Union.
The expectations of the SEOM and other missions would be guided and measured mainly against provisions and requirements of the Madagascar Constitution, as well as the SADC Treaty, the Revised SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
SADC has been seized with the political situation in Madagascar since 2009 and appointed former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano as special envoy to mediate in the peace talks.
The conduct of the forthcoming presidential election in Madagascar should, therefore, be viewed in the context of these on-going regional initiatives that are designed to bring lasting political stability to the country.