MADAGASCARCHINA Election funds? Try Hong Kong 28th February 2011 Image courtesy of Panos Pictures View site Antananarivo is looking for resource deals with Asian financiers to raise cash for an election campaign for interim leader Andry Rajoelina The transitional regime led by Andry Rajoelina is threatening to cancel oil exploration licences held by Western investors and hand them to the Hong Kong-based China International Fund. Rajoelina, who seized power with army support in March 2009, needs money to fight presidential elections due in mid-year, which are shaping up to be a bitter confrontation with desposed President Marc Ravalomanana and several other candidates. Refusing to recognise Rajoelina’s legitimacy after the putsch that brought him to power, the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the European Union are demanding strict conditions for a return to constitional rule in Madgascar. However, Rajoelina has been able to build up a strong local political support base and win finance on natural resource deals from Indian, Chinese and Pakistani companies (see box).The immediate targets for the Rajoelina regime are the four licences held by London-listed Madagascar Oil, whose operations at the Tsimororo oil field are now subject to a state audit. If the audits find that Madagascar Oil has breached local regulations, the state will press its claims to buy back the licences.