Madagascar: Andry Rajoelina Reelected As President

Ten out of 12 presidential rivals boycotted the poll complaining of an “institutional coup” in favor of the incumbent. Rajoelina was handed a second term by the election commission after securing nearly 59% of the vote.

Madagascar’s election commission on Saturday announced the reelection of President Andry Rajoelina following the first round of a ballot boycotted by nearly all opposition candidates.

The 49-year-old Rajoelina won nearly 59% of the vote during the election on November 16, the commission said.

The second place went to Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, who won 14% of the vote, while former President Marc Ravalomanana, who was one of several candidates who called for a boycott by voters, came in third place with 12%.

The result still has to be endorsed by the country’s constitutional court, but if confirmed, it avoids Rajoelina facing a second-round election runoff and he can begin a third term.

Reacting to the news, Rajoelina said voters had “chosen the path of continuity and stability.”

Madagascar is an island nation that lies off the southeastern coast of Africa.

Who is Andry Rajoelina?

Rajoelina is a former DJ and mayor of the capital, Antananarivo.

He was previously president of a provisional government from 2008 to 2014 following a military-backed coup. He won the presidency for a second time during elections in 2018.

During the pandemic, Rajoelina gained a degree of notoriety by promoting an herbal drink as a cure for COVID-19.

Mandate hurt by lower turnout, boycott by rivals

The legitimacy of his new term is certain to be questioned as 60% of an 11-million-strong electorate failed to cast their ballot in the first-round vote.

Ten of the 12 presidential rivals had called for a boycott complaining of an “institutional coup” in favor of the incumbent.

The rivals told voters “to consider the elections do not exist” and refused to campaign.

Despite their refusal to participate in the vote, their names remained on the ballot.

Ahead of Saturday’s announcement, Madagascar’s opposition said they would not recognize the results:

“We shall not recognize the results of this illegitimate election, replete with irregularities, and we decline all responsibility for the political and social instability which may result,” the 11-candidate-strong platform said in a statement.

Violence delayed vote by a week

For weeks prior to the election, the collective urged demonstrations virtually every day in Antananarivo. The protests, which drew few people, were regularly dispersed with tear gas.

Some polling stations were torched ahead of the election, which was delayed for a week because of the trouble.

The collective denounced irregularities during the vote itself including closed polling stations, lack of ballot boxes, as well as Rajoelina’s use of state resources to help fund his campaign.

mm/wmr (AFP, EFE)