Madagascar's Andry Rajeolina re-elected president in boycotted poll

AFP , Saturday 25 Nov 2023

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has won re-election in the first round of a ballot boycotted by nearly all opposition candidates, the election commission said Saturday.

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina (2nd L) casts his ballot at a polling station in Ambatobe, Antananarivo, on November 16, 2023, during the first round of the Madagascar presidential election. AFP

 

Rajoelina won 58.95 percent of the votes cast in the November 16 election, according to the results presented by the poll body.

Turnout was just over 46 percent, down on the previous presidential election in 2018.

Rajoelina, 49, first came to power in 2009 following a mutiny that ousted former president Marc Ravalomanana. He then skipped the following elections only to make a winning comeback in 2018.

The 11 million voters had to choose between Rajeolina and 12 other candidates. Ten of the incumbent's rivals refused to campaign and urged voters to shun the ballot, branding it a farce.

Rajoelina, a former mayor of the capital Antananarivo, is accused by rivals of corruption, greed, and turning a blind eye to the pillage of the country's natural resources, including its precious rosewood forests.

"What results? What election?" was the joint opposition response to a request for comment on Rajeolina's victory.

"We will not recognise the results of this illegitimate election, riddled with irregularities, and we decline all responsibility for the political and social instability that could ensue", the opponents warned.

'Worrying anomalies' 
 

The opposition has not yet indicated if it will formally contest the result and has not called for more street demonstrations.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, the opposition -- including two former presidents -- led near-daily, largely unauthorised protests that were regularly dispersed by police using tear gas.

Madagascar has been in turmoil since media reports in June revealed Rajoelina had acquired French nationality in 2014.

Under local law, the president should have lost his Madagascan nationality, and with it, the ability to lead the country, his opponents said.

Opposition candidates complained of an "institutional coup" in favour of the incumbent, accusing government of working to reappoint Rajoelina.

They called for the electoral process to be suspended and for the international community to intervene.

Eight countries and organisations including the European Union and the United States expressed concern about the "disproportionate use of force" to disperse opposition demonstrations.

The opposition has denounced irregularities, including closed polling stations, a lack of ballot boxes and the use of state resources by Rajoelina for his campaign.

One of the two opponents who formally remained in the race, Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, also denounced "worrying anomalies" which he said "raise legitimate questions about the validity of the results".

The results still have to be validated by the High Constitutional Court, the country's highest court, within nine days, during which appeals in the event of a challenge can be lodged.

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