Madagascar completes first round of presidential elections; incumbent out of race

Madagascar has completed a peaceful first round of presidential election, which saw the incumbent president getting out, leading to two former presidential to face each other in the second round.

Former president Marc Ravalomanana garnered 35.35% of the vote in the first round on November 7, while Andry Rajoelina — who had toppled him in the upheaval of 2009, which the African Union and other international organisations called a coup –secured 39.23%.

This was the first-second election, the other being in 2013, since the upheaval.

Although incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina challenged the first round, calling for a cancellation, the High Constitutional rejected the plea saying there was insufficient evidence of any widespread irregularities that he alleged.

The United Nations praised the country for the peaceful voting in the first round, particularly the National Independent Electoral Commission and the High Constitutional Court, “for their leadership and professionalism throughout the electoral process”.

The island nation, off the southeast coast of Africa, had suffered major economic losses following the 2009 political instability, as it led to an exodus of foreign investors and international sanctions.

Madagascar, known for its unique wildlife, is the world’s biggest producer of vanilla and has reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals. But 80% of the population of 25-million lives on less than $2 per day.

Rajaonarimampianina in April this year attempted to change the electoral law to bar his rivals from contesting, But he had to withdraw the proposals following protests.

The run-off election will be held next month to decide who will lead the Indian Ocean island nation.

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