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Madagascar election results challenged in court, amid runoff

Madagascar’s presidential election result is likely to face stiff legal challenges, following accusations of electoral fraud and corruption against the electoral body.

Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina
Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina

AFP says appeals have already been lodged with the country’s High Constitutional Court.

Madagascar’s electoral commission announced results on Saturday, confirming an expected presidential election run-off after neither of the candidate obtained the 50 percent of votes needed to win outrightly.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission, former presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, will contest the second round having secured 39.19 percent and 35.29 percent, respectively.

The outgoing president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, placed third in the polls with only 8.84 percent of the vote.

The commission said turnout was 54. 3 percent.

With 96 percent of all polling stations counted, Madagascan police on Friday called for calm, as results showed two former presidents leading the close presidential race.

“The electoral process is at a delicate moment, sensitive to any tensions and rivalries, so all stakeholders are urged to protect the best interests of the nation and to guarantee order,” the police said in a statement.

The three leading candidates have all raised allegations of fraud and malpractice by election authorities.

Thirty-six candidates participated in the first-round election.

The second-round duel between the two top vote winners – required if no candidate scores above 50 percent in the first round – is to take place on December 19.

“Given the results of the CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission), the second round is now inevitable,” Madagascan analyst Mahery Lanto Manandafy told AFP.

Under Madagascar’s electoral regulations, the two frontrunners go through to a run-off, scheduled for December 19 – if neither manages to secure more than 50 percent in the first round.

Marc Ravalomanana

Both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were banned from contesting the last election in 2013 under international pressure to avoid a repeat of political violence that engulfed the island in 2009.

Ravalomanana, 68, and Rajoelina, 44, are bitter rivals and this is the first time they have faced each other at the polls.

Ravalomanana ruled from 2002 to 2009 until he was ousted in a military-backed coup that installed Rajoelina who was in power until 2014.

Rajaonarimampianina succeeded him, ruling until earlier this year.

While Madagascar’s president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who is running for a second term, has complained about some electoral irregularities, the EU observer chief said last Friday that there were not enough irregularities to affect the outcome of Wednesday’s election.

Rajaonarimampianina on Thursday complained against the use of an invalid voter register, delays in the opening of the polls in some places, intimidation and ballot-stuffing.

But the EU’s chief observer Cristian Preda said any irregularities observed so far were not sufficient to change the outcome or call the vote into question.

“We are in a good atmosphere. The disputes are part of the democratic game… it’s normal, it’s human. Disputes must be handled by the law enforcement bodies,” Preda said.

He however noted that the lack of a cap on campaign spending by the candidates had put some at a disadvantage, without providing any names.

The result of the first round of voting in one of the world’s poorest countries could hinge in part on which of the frontrunners, all wealthy men, spent the most money.

“In 2013, the European Union recommended capping candidate expenses and in future reports, there will still be this recommendation,” Preda said. – AFP/Africa News