It’s down to the wire in Madagascar as the country ended its campaigns Monday, in preparation for Wednesday’s runoff election to determine who will become president – or in this case, president again.
Both candidates in the island nation’s election have served in the top office before. Marc Ravalomanana of the opposition Tiako I Madagasikara (TIM) party was president from 2002 to 2009, before he was ousted from office during a political crisis that saw Andry Rajoelina, above, become president.
Rajoelina served until his term expired – Ravalomanana, right, spent much of that time in exile in South Africa – but both men were prevented from running for office in 2013 as part of a deal to resolve Madagascar’s conflicts over political leadership.
Former president Hery Rajaonarimampianina and his HVM party took over, but he stepped down in September 2018 so that he was eligible to campaign for another term. Rivo Rakotovao has since served as interim president, while Rajaonarimampianina was denied the opportunity to compete for a second term after receiving just 8.9 percent of the vote during the country’s first round of voting in November.
Voters in November had 36 candidates to choose from, but gave the MAPAR candidate Rajoelina a slight edge with 39.2 percent of votes while Ravalomanana picked up 35.4 percent. Yet neither of them achieved the 50 percent threshold required for victory under Madagascar’s electoral laws, sending voters back to the polls tomorrow.
Ravalomanana has raised concern over the accuracy of voter registrations, while noting that just 54 percent of Malagasy voters participated in the first round. While most of the campaign has been peaceful, there have been isolated incidents of political violence that raise concerns over further instability in Madagascar.
Images: Ravalomanana, Rajoelina campaigns