Run-off in Madagascar polls


Madagascar is set for a run-off on December 20 after no Presidential candidate amassed enough votes to be declared outright winner following elections held in late October.

Former Health Minister Jean-Louis Robinson and ex-Finance Minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina led first round Presidential polls with 21 and 16 percent of the vote, respectively, but failed to win sufficient votes for an outright majority.

The Madagascar Constitution requires that a Presidential candidate must amass 50 percent-plus-one of total votes cast in a national election to be declared President.

Robinson and Rajaonarimampianina will face each other in the run-off that will be held along with Parliamentary elections.

According to provisional results announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI-T) on November 8, Robinson and Rajaonarimampianina emerged as the two candidates with the most votes in the first round.

The rest of the vote was split among 31 other candidates.

The provisional results will now go to the Special Electoral Court (SEC) for validation.

The winner will replace Andry Rajoelina, a former disc jockey who ousted Former President Marc Ravalomanana in a military-backed coup in 2009, in a similar method used by Ravalomanana to oust his predecessor, Didier Ratsiraka.

The SEC barred Rajoelina, Ravalomanana and his wife Lalao Ravalomanana, together with Ratsiraka, from taking part in the elections to prevent a repeat of the turmoil that accompanied the 2009 coup.

This decision was supported by SADC and other organisations including the AU and the European Union.

Voter turnout was high during the elections at about 62 percent of registered voters as the people of Madagascar chose among 33 candidates for a new President to lead them out of a political crisis of nearly five years.

More than 7.8 million registered voters cast their ballots at 20 001 polling stations across the country. Of these, more than 2.7 million voters were registered in the capital Antananarivo alone.

The election was endorsed as credible, free and fair by SADC, AU and EU observers.

Head of the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM), Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the voting process was generally “peacefully and in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act” despite concerns raised by some of the contestants.

Some of the concerns raised by the Presidential candidates were use of the single ballot paper system, the state of the voters roll, poor voter education, accessibility of some areas, and security of the election material.

“The SEOM observed that in general voting took place in a peaceful, free, and transparent environment and that CENI-T staff conducted themselves professionally,” she said.

Nandi-Ndaitwah is Foreign Affairs Minister of Namibia, which currently chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.

The SADC Mission to Madagascar was launched on October 14 and met with various stakeholders in Madagascar, including President of the Transitional Authority Rajoelina, Presidential candidates, officials of the transitional government, and civil society organisations.

The observer mission was guided by various instruments such as the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

The elections were a result of the SADC mediation effort led by former Mozambican President, Joaquim Chissano.

SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, noted that the success of the elections would mark a “new beginning” towards national reconciliation and reconstruction, and bring stability and development to Madagascar.

“It is our hope that once this phase is completed, the country will focus on socio-economic development and poverty eradication programmes,” she said.

The AU observer mission congratulated CENIT and the people of Madagascar for conducting peaceful elections and called on the transitional government to ensure peace and security prevails until the Presidential run-off and Parliamentary elections.

The AU in September lifted sanctions against Rajoelina and his backers that were imposed three years ago to encourage negotiations after he seized power.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said in September that the AU was “immediately” lifting sanctions against 109 individuals, including Rajoelina.

He said the sanctions, which included an asset freeze, were lifted because Madagascar was heading in the right direction to hold credible elections on October 25.

“There is a complete change of circumstances, because now the electoral process is very much on track and these personalities, including the President himself, have played a most active role,” Lamamra said at the time.

<p> Madagascar has been suspended from the AU and SADC since 2009, but Lamamra said the Indian Ocean island would be reinstated if the Presidential elections if they are deemed credible.

The AU official said Madagascar would remain suspended until the swearing-in of a new President. –  

November 2013
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