Wednesday 12 December 2018
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africanews - 27 days ago

Likely run-off in Madagascar, incumbent president trailing in third place

Partial results point to election run-off With 80 percent of the ballots counted from last week’s vote, two former presidents are in the lead, with Andry Rajoelina on 39.63 percent, while Marc Ravalomanana was on 35.42 percent, pointing towards a close race for the presidency in the head-to-head second round. Outgoing president Hery Rajaonarimampianina was in third place with eight percent. “Given the results of the CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission), the second round is now inevitable,” Madagascan analyst Mahery Lanto Manandafy told AFP. Under Madagascar’s electoral regulations, the two frontrunners go through to a run-off, scheduled for December 19 — if neither manages to secure more than 50 percent in the first round. Both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were banned from contesting the last election in 2013 under international pressure to avoid a repeat of political violence that engulfed the island in 2009. Ravalomanana, 68, and Rajoelina, 44, are bitter rivals and this is the first time they have faced each other at the polls. Ravalomanana ruled from 2002 to 2009 until he was ousted in a military-backed coup that installed Rajoelina who was in power until 2014. Rajaonarimampianina succeeded him, ruling until earlier this year. EU approval, incumbent president claims fraud While Madagascar’s president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who is running for a second term, has complained about some electoral irregularities, the EU observer said on Friday that it had enough enough irregularities to affect the outcome of Wednesday’s election. Rajaonarimampianina on Thursday complained against the use of an invalid voter register, delays in the opening of the polls in some places, intimidation and ballot-stuffing. But the EU’s chief observer Cristian Preda said any irregularities observed so far were not sufficient to change the outcome or call the vote into question. “We are in a good atmosphere. The disputes are part of the democratic game… it’s normal, it’s human. Disputes must be handled by the law enforcement bodies,” Preda said. Campaign financing He however noted that the lack of a cap on campaign spending by the candidates had put some at a disadvantage, without providing any names. The result of the first round of voting in one of the world’s poorest countries could hinge in part on which of the frontrunners, all wealthy men, spent the most money. “In 2013, the European Union recommended capping candidate expenses and in future reports, there will still be this recommendation,” Preda said. ALSO READ: Madagascar Presidential candidates express concern over finance Leading candidates optimistic As election officials count votes, following Wednesday’s presidential poll, the frontrunners have expressed optimist about their chances of winning. Incumbent president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, is facing a stiff challenge from two former presidents, Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina. “I am optimistic and positive, I do not think there will be a second round,” dairy tycoon Marc Ravalomanana said at his political headquarters, where dozens of supporters gathered. For his part, former nightclub promoter Andry Rajoelina spoke to hundreds of supporters gathered at the studio of his TV chain Viva, saying he was satisfied the early results “express the desire for change.” Rajaonarimampianina called it “a big day… a victory for democracy” after casting his ballot. While election observers are hoping for a peaceful election, having detected no anomalies in the polls, some are worried about the possibility of a second round. “The big risk of this election is that it will return us to an era of crisis,” said Sahondra Rabenarivo, an analyst at the Malagasy Observatory on Public Life. “It’s very important that the results are credible and that the third-placed candidate accepts them.” If the poll needs to go to a second round, it will involve only the two top candidates and take place on Dec. 19. Polls close, issues during voting Polling stations closed in Madagscar at 5pm local time (14:00GMT), having opened as early as 6am (3:00GMT). While the head of the European Union’s observer mission, Cristian Preda, reported that there were no issued during the voting, some voters in the capital reportedly could not find their names on the voters’ register. #Madagascar ‘s electoral commission, CENI says there’s been a 40% turnout in the presidential election.Also problems with voters roll- we spoke to many people who couldn’t find their name on the list so did not vote. They say they had registered. In some instances whole families— Fahmida Miller (@FahmidaMiller) November 7, 2018 With close to 10 million registered voters, the electoral body, CENI reported a turnout of 40%. Vote counting is now underway, in the presidential race that pit incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina against his two main challengers are former heads of state: Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina. Polls open The Malagasy people demonstrated enthusiasm as they started voting early on Wednesday morning in a presidential election, hoping for change of the Indian Ocean island’s fortunes in terms of job opportunities, poverty eradication and corruption. Voter Sahondramalala Nirisoa told Reuters she had arrived early because she needed to get to work. “I hope and I pray for a change,” she said. “That is why I came to vote.” Background There are nearly 10 million registered voters in the country of 25 million people, data from the electoral commission showed. Few analysts expect an outright winner from the 36 total who are contesting. All three leading candidates have criss-crossed the island in a hunt for votes and each has pledged to accelerate recovery for an economy the International Monetary Fund forecasts will grow at more than 5 percent this year, its highest rate in a decade. If the poll needs to go to a second round, it will involve only the two top candidates and take place on Dec. 19. Since a peaceful election in 2013, investors and donor governments re-engaged following a four-year freeze that began after Rajoelina came to power. The events of 2009 prompted an exodus of foreign investors from a country that is one of the world’s poorest despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals. The island was hit by a fresh political crisis in April sparked by a legal amendment by Rajaonarimampianina’s government that would have prevented Ravalomanana from standing for office. Rajaonarimampianina approved a new law removing that provision the following month, allowing Ravalomanana to register as a candidate. READ MORE: Madagascar presidential polls: Here’s everything you need to know

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