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.
Parliamentary polls also taking place on Friday could lead to one camp holding the presidency and the other controlling the legislature, perhaps forcing them into a power-sharing deal.
Such a compromise might please donors and many Malagasys, exhausted by five years of political stalemate, but some fear rival leaders will instead prolong a paralysing confrontation in which the economy has shrunk 4 percent since the coup in 2009.