February 28, 2024

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Controversial Re-election: Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina Secures Third Term

Madagascar's President and a presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina flanked by his wife Mialy Rajoelina as he arrives to cast his ballot at a polling station, during the presidential election in Ambatobe, Antananarivo, Madagascar Nov 16, 2023.

Andry Rajoelina, the current president of Madagascar, has been re-elected to a third term in a contentious election that the opposition and its supporters boycotted.

With 59% of the vote, he defeated Marc Ravalomanana, the former president, and Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, his closest opponent.

Voter turnout in the election was 46%, which is thought to be the lowest in the history of the island nation.

The low turnout coincided with ten presidential contenders calling for a boycott of the poll.

Along with withdrawing their candidacies, they also criticized President Rajoelina’s bid for a third term and his eligibility as a candidate given his dual French nationality, as well as their doubts about the legitimacy of the election.

Their appeals to revoke Mr. Rajoelina’s candidacy were denied by the constitutional court. In addition, he denied the charges and labeled them as a ploy.

The candidates’ names continued to appear on the ballot even after they backed out. Mr. Ravalomanana received 12% of the vote, while Mr. Randrianasoloniaiko received 14%.

The results that Madagascar’s electoral body, Ceni, announced on Saturday must be verified by the constitutional court within nine days.

The group of opposition candidates who boycotted the election has already declared that it will not accept the results of the vote on November 16.

A curfew was implemented in Antananarivo on the eve of the election as a result of six weeks of protests and altercations with the police.

In 2018, Mr. Rajoelina, a 49-year-old businessman and former DJ, defeated Mr. Ravalomanana in a runoff election for president after neither candidate received the necessary 50% of the vote to be declared the victor of the first round.

He had overthrown Mr. Ravalomanana in an army-backed coup in 2009.

 Rajoelina faces the difficult task of boosting the economy and creating jobs, in a nation where 75% of people live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

“The Malagasy people have chosen the path of continuity, serenity and stability,” Rajoelina said after results were announced.

“I thank the Malagasy people who now refuse to choose the wrong path, who no longer accept to take the path of unrest. Democracy is exercised through elections and not in the streets or through unrest.”

He is also anticipated to bring political stability in a nation shaken by years of political unrest.

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