Vote Counting Underway in Madagascar’s Presidential Runoff

Marc Ravalomanana casting his ballot on Wednesday.

Voters in the Indian Ocean Island country, Madagascar, Wednesday cast their ballots in the Presidential runoff election between two ex-presidents, Marc Ravalomanana, a 68-year-old economic pragmatist and Andry Rajoelina, a 44-year-old former DJ.

The duo won the first round of the Presidential election held on November 7, but failed to raise the 50% of the total valid votes required by the country’s constitution to assume the Presidency.

Marc garnered 35% while his rival Andry, got 39% promoting a runoff. They defeated 34 other candidates including the incumbent, Hery Rajaonarimampianina who came third with only 8% of the total votes.

The country famous for vanilla growing but also recently characterised by political instability, has 10 million registered voters but only 53% turned out for the November 7 polls.

Acrimonious relationship between the two candidates

Ravalomanana who became President in 2002 was forced out of office in 2009 in protests led by Rajoelina.

Rajoelina went on to take the presidency, having been installed by the army, and led the country until 2013.

They were both barred from entering the presidential race of 2013 because the international community feared it would reignite a political crisis, giving way to President Rajaonarimampianina.

The two have since had a bitter relationship and their rivalry was evident in the recent Presidential debate, when they accused each of authoritarianism and incompetence.

But during the campaigns, both candidates said they had put the past behind them and would accept the results.

The Electoral Commission has already embarked on vote counting with final results expected in a fortnight.

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