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.
… Campaigning wrapped up on Wednesday with a heated televised debate, after both candidates earlier addressed thousands of supporters at rallies in the capital Antananarivo. “We won’t accept vote-rigging. The people are with us to survey the vote,” said Jean Louis amid concerns over irregularities.
If elected, he vowed to allow his mentor Ravalomanana to return. A few kilometres away, Rajoelina danced on stage at his protégé’s rally.
“We have listened to the people, we have met a people who want to fight against poverty,” Rajaonarimampianina told the crowd.