Madagascans head to the ballot box on Wednesday in a run-off election between two rivals who have waited years to come face-to-face in a fiercely personal battle for power in the Indian Ocean island. The clash between Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina could revive instability in the impoverished country if the result is rejected by the losing candidate or fraud allegations are widespread, analysts warn. The two contenders came a close first and second, far ahead of their competitors, in the preliminary vote in November. Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were both banned from running in the 2013 vote as part of an agreement to end recurring crises that have rocked Madagascar since independence from France in 1960. In the first round, Rajoelina won 39 percent compared with 35 percent for Ravalomanana. Both camps alleged they were victims of fraud and cheating.
Ravalomanana, 69, was first elected as president in 2002 but was forced to resign seven years later by violent demonstrations supported by Rajoelina, the then mayor of the capital Antananarivo. Rajoelina, 44, was installed by the army and ruled until 2014.
“There are fake ID cards and fake voter cards circulating right now… if the interior ministry does not do anything, there will be problems,” Ravalomanana said in the candidates’ TV debate on Monday night.
“I will work and do anything to make Madagascar a developed country,” he pledged, underlining his experience and character in contrast to the younger Rajoelina.
Full Article: Madagascar votes in showdown between two ex-presidents.