Tensions rife in Madagascar after disputed poll

Andry-Rajoelina.jpg

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina. Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

from MARIO RAJOMAZANDRY in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Madagascar Bureau
ANTANANARIVO, (CAJ News) – ANOTHER disputed election outcome has plunged the island nation of Madagascar into a fresh crisis.

In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, both the ruling party and the opposition have rejected the legislative poll results announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and appealed the results at the High Constitutional Court (HCC).

Civil society observers have also lodged formal complaints with the court over the conduct of the polls.

On Tuesday, the CENI released preliminary results, indicating the incumbent President Andry Rajoelina’s coalition (All Together With Andry Rajoelina or IRMAR) was leading in 80 of 163 constituencies.

The lead opposition, Firaisankina, would obtain 22 seats, with smaller parties and independent candidates leading in the remaining constituencies.

Polls held at the end of May were fraught with violence.

The CENI this week announced it was not able to release results for the southernmost municipality of Tsihombe following the torching of the electoral offices by frustrated voters.

It is unclear when the HCC will release the definitive results but police and armed forces have warned against any attempt at disrupting proceedings.

Post-election periods are typically tense in Madagascar, the second-largest island country in the world (after Indonesia).

Allegations of voter fraud are common and the election of 50-year-old media entrepreneur Rajoelina to retain the presidency late in 2023 was not an exception.

A security expert has forecast supporters of candidates announced as losing were likely to protest near party headquarters, governmental buildings and polling stations.

At the time of publication, the situation was tense but security forces in Madagascar are prone to the use of force, especially during street protests in support of opposition candidates.

Clashes between rival political camps or between protesters and police are rife.

The capital Antananrivo is seen as a hotspot of violence.

Authorities were forecast to maintain a higher security posture nationwide in the coming days, particularly along key thoroughfares and near government buildings.

In that event, roadblocks, checkpoints, and searches of vehicles and pedestrians are forecast, with security probably tightest on the day the HCC certifies the results.

This is the second electoral outcome in as many months in the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) after the South African general poll was challenged in court amid allegations of vote rigging.

Besides political turbulence, the island nation of 31 million people is enduring deadly floods, blamed on climate change.

– CAJ News

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