Mada­gas­car goes to the polls to pick next pres­i­dent

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

ANTANANARIVO: Mada­gas­car went to the polls on Wed­nes­day to elect a new pres­i­dent, with the three front-run­ners all for­mer heads of state fac­ing-off amid ef­forts to defuse a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

At­tempts by the most re­cent pres­i­dent, Hery Ra­jaonari­mampianina, to change the large In­dian Ocean is­land’s elec­toral laws back­fired, spark­ing nearly three months of some­times vi­o­lent protests in the cap­i­tal Antananarivo.

The demon­stra­tors forced Ra­jaonari­mampianina to ac­cept a “con­sen­sus” gov­ern­ment tasked with or­gan­is­ing the elec­tion in the poor coun­try with a his­tory of coups and unrest.

Nearly 10 mil­lion vot­ers are el­i­gi­ble to cast bal­lots for one of 36 can­di­dates who, in ad­di­tion to the three front-run­ners, in­clude two ex-prime min­is­ters, pas­tors and a rock star. Short queues of early vot­ers formed at sev­eral polling sta­tions in the cap­i­tal

“I’ve come here to do my duty by vot­ing. I want a pres­i­dent who gets me out of poverty,” said Eline Fara­ni­aina, an un­em­ployed 60-year-old, cast­ing her bal­lot at a vo­ca­tional col­lege.

One pres­i­den­tial con­tender must win 50 pe rcent of votes cast or a sec­ond round will be held on De­cem­ber 19. Ra­jaonari­mampianina is com­pet­ing against two of his pre­de­ces­sors.

Marc Raval­o­manana, a milk mogul, ruled from 2002 to 2009 and Andry Ra­joelina, a for­mer club night pro­moter nick­named “the disc jockey”, suc­ceeded him and was in power un­til 2013.

The trio staged mas­sive ral­lies over the week­end in the cap­i­tal, each at­tract­ing tens of thou­sands of sup­port­ers.

The for­mer French colony has strug­gled to over­come po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions after a dis­puted 2001 elec­tion that sparked clashes and a 2009 mil­i­tary-backed coup that ousted Raval­o­manana.

Apart from protests ear­lier this year, Ra­jaonari­mampianina’s term was mostly peace­ful but anger over the past still sim­mers.

He has promised “a new phase” in Mada­gas­car’s de­vel­op­ment if elected.

“I’m poor. I live hand to mouth, day to day. I don’t have any­thing to eat for to­mor­row,” said Coledette, a mother-of-four an­gered by re­cent in­creases in the price of rice ahead of the poll.

The key bat­tle will be be­tween Ra­jaonari­mampianina and the for­mer pres­i­dents Raval­o­manana and Ra­joelina, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts and the find­ings of a banned pre-vote poll seen by AFP.

If none of the hope­fuls reaches the 50 per­cent thresh­old this time, only two can­di­dates will go through to a sec­ond round vote.

“The big risk of this elec­tion is that it will re­turn us to an era of cri­sis,” said Sa­hon­dra Rabenar­ivo, an an­a­lyst at the Mala­gasy Ob­ser­va­tory on Pub­lic Life. “It’s very im­por­tant that the re­sults are cred­i­ble and that the third-placed can­di­date ac­cepts them.”

The for­mer French colony has strug­gled to over­come po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions after a dis­puted 2001 elec­tion that sparked clashes and a 2009 mil­i­tary-backed coup that ousted Raval­o­manana

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.