Madagascar’s electoral court declared former finance minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina president-elect on Friday despite allegations by his defeated rival that the December run-off vote was rigged. The ruling raises the specter of protests by supporters of Jean Louis Robinson who had demanded a recount and warned on Thursday that his patience was wearing thin. Any prolonged row over the result of the Dec. 20 vote, the first since a coup on the Indian Ocean island in 2009, threatens to extend a political crisis that has sharply slowed economic growth and deepened poverty. An aide to Robinson, who was backed by Marc Ravalomanana, the man ousted from power five years ago, this week said he would outline the “irregularities” to the Southern African Development Community and African Union. Both blocs had worked on a political deal to push Madagascar towards an election.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Madagascar.
Madagascar’s presidential candidates both claimed victory Saturday in run-off polls, each accusing the other of rigging the vote as results started to trickle in. Mutual mud-slinging marked the long wait as counting continued after elections on Friday aimed at pulling the island from the doldrums following a coup four years ago. The tiff resembled disputed polls in 2001, when both candidates’ insistence on an outright first-round win led to deadly clashes. Former health minister Robinson Jean Louis, candidate of ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, told AFP he expected to win 56 per cent, while his opponent Hery Rajaonarimampianina claimed to have taken between 60 and 65 percent. “Up to now I’m the winner, and we had a little party last night at our headquarters because the voters who came showed we won, at least according to the results we’ve received,” Jean Louis, 61, told AFP in an interview Saturday. His camp will challenge vote-rigging in court, the freemason doctor said.
Madagascar stages a run-off presidential election on Friday, but old rifts may persist, extending a crisis begun by a coup five years ago that deterred investors and donors of aid to one of Africa’s poorest nations. Neither candidate scored a commanding victory in October’s first round. Both rely on supporters of their respective sponsors, outgoing President Andry Rajoelina and the man he deposed with the army’s help in 2009, Marc Ravalomanana. Voters may not deliver a clear mandate to either Jean Louis Robinson, an ally of Ravalomanana, or Hery Rajaonarimampianina, a former finance minister backed by Rajoelina.
Madagascans are taking to the polls in a run-off elections aimed at pulling the island out of the political and economic doldrums and restoring democracy. Citizens hope Friday’s vote will end the crisis sparked by Andry Rajoelina’s coup four years ago, which paralyzed much of the government and caused foreign donors to cancel aid. Both Rajoelina and the man he ousted in March 2009, Marc Ravalomanana, have been blocked from running, amid international pressure over fears of a return to violence. Instead, proxy candidates took part and won the two top places during a first round of voting on October 25. Freemason doctor and former health minister Robinson Jean Louis is seen as a slight favourite after winning 21.16 percent in the first round.
Madagascar’s Special Electoral Court (CES) has rejected a demand for the cancellation of election results, the CES said on Monday. Five of 33 candidates in the first round of presidential election held in Madagascar on Oct. 25 had demanded the revocation of election results under the pretext of “fraud, use of public prerogatives by certain candidates and bad organization of the election.” The candidates making the demand include Voninahitsy Jean Eugene, who won 2.13 percent, and Lahiniriko Jean, who scored 0.87 percent. Some candidates had also asked for postponing the election or re-organizing the first round of election. “The CES declares admissible applications … asking cancellation of the vote nationally, but rejects as unfounded,” the CES said in its website.
There was a presidential election in Madagascar on Oct. 25. Thirty-three candidates were on the ballot, and nobody got a majority. According to the Malagasy constitution, the top two vote getters must go to a runoff on Dec. 20. The biggest vote went to Jean Louis Robinson, with 21.1 percent, with Hery Rajaonarimampianina second, at 15.9 percent. Madagascar is a huge island off the East Coast of Africa, with a population of 22 million. It was first settled two thousand years ago or more by travelers from Borneo, with later additions from the African continent. Madagascar has unique flora and fauna, much of which is now threatened by expanding human economic activities. For a long time an independent kingdom, Madagascar was seized by France in 1896, and exploited as a colony. When the French empire was fatally weakened by World War II and defeats in Vietnam and Algeria, and after a large-scale mass rebellion, Madagascar got its independence in 1960.
The people of Madagascar are waiting for the outcome of Saturday’s election.They hope the new leadership will lift their country out of political chaos and rescue it from economic ruin. It is a long list. Thirty three candidates competed in Friday’s presidential elections in Madagascar, far more than the last election in 2006. Parties are playing a subordinate role. “You’ll look for familiar candidates’ names in vain,” said Jean Herve Rakotozanany, a radio journalist who has been covering Madagascan politics for the last 15 years. Some of the candidates’ names were completely unknown to him. Initially it had seemed that well-known heavyweights such as Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina would be contesting this election. Ravalomanana was president until the beginning of 2009. He was then ousted by Rajoelina and fled into exile.
Madagascar’s first presidential election since a military-backed coup was free and fair, European Union (EU) and Southern African observers said on Sunday, as early results trickled out two days after the poll. The announcements were a boost for the Indian Ocean island which needs a credible vote to rebuild investors’ confidence and win back aid suspended after dissident troops propelled Andry Rajoelina into power in 2009. But foreign envoys warned there was still time for an upset. Full results cold take as long as a week to emerge and the two front-runners both anticipate a second-round runoff, prolonging the uncertainty. “This election has been free, transparent and credible,” the head of the EU observer mission, Maria Muniz de Urquiza, said. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which suspended Madagascar as a member after Rajoelina’s power grab, said the vote had “reflected the will of Malagasy people”.
Madagascar will hold elections on Friday in an effort to end political tensions that erupted in a 2009 coup and lift the aid-dependent country out of poverty. The island nation, off Africa’s east coast in the Indian Ocean, plunged into turmoil after Andry Rajoelina, a former disc jockey and mayor of the capital Antananarivo, seized power with the help of the military. Ousted President Marc Ravalomanana went into exile in South Africa. The coup resulted in the suspension of much-needed foreign aid. Madagascar was suspended from the African Union and the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, or SADC, until a constitutionally elected government was restored. With 33 candidates running in the election, it could prove difficult for a clear winner to emerge in the first round. If none of the candidates garners more than 50 percent of the votes, the two top candidates will compete in a runoff scheduled for Dec. 20. Nine candidates, including three key politicians, were barred from taking part in the polls as part of a plan to resolve the political crisis. Former presidents Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka and former president Ravalomanana’s wife, Lalao, were excluded for failing to comply with the country’s electoral laws.
There’s no doubt that former Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, who threw him out four years ago, have unfinished business. But that will have to wait. Friday’s presidential election on the island provides the arena for a battle by proxy. From his exile in South Africa, Ravalomanana, the man who went from yoghurt magnate to national leader to asylum seeker, has endorsed one of the 33 candidates, namely Jean Louis Robinson who served as his Health Minister. Here in the capital Antananarivo, former disc jockey and youthful interim President Rajoelina initially gave his stamp of approval to no fewer than three of the runners. However, it is former Finance Ninister Hery Rajaonarimampianina who has his final blessing. Only six of the 33 have a realistic chance of winning. All money is on there not being an outright winner when results are announced early next month. So the front runners will probably be back for the run-off to coincide with the parliamentary elections scheduled for December 20.