Amid opposition boycott, Madagascar president Rajoelina gets re-elected

2023 11 25T124003Z 2 LYNXMPEJAO039 RTROPTP 4 MADAGASCAR ELECTION scaled
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 November 16, 2023. REUTERS/Zo Andrianjafy/File Photo

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina secured a third term, as announced by Commission Electorale Nationale Independante (CENI), which declared him the winner in an election characterised by low voter turnout and an opposition boycott.

According to provisional results released by CENI on Sunday, Rajoelina secured 58.9% of the votes, with lawmaker Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko coming in second with 14.4%. The final results, to be announced by the country’s High Constitutional Court, are expected within nine days of the provisional results.

Following the announcement, Rajoelina, a 49-year-old entrepreneur and former DJ, expressed gratitude stating, “the Malagasy people have chosen the path of continuity, serenity, and stability.” He underlined the importance of democracy being exercised through elections rather than through unrest in the streets.

However, Randrianasoloniaiko contested the results, claiming electoral fraud, and stated that he had appealed to the country’s high court to cancel the vote result. Opposition candidates, including Hajo Andrianainarivelo, who declared on Friday that they would not accept the results, cited irregularities such as intimidation of polling officials and alleged use of public resources by the governing party.

The opposition, represented by the “Collectif des 10,” a group of ten candidates, boycotted the election, leading street protests in the capital Antananarivo. The United Nations human rights office criticised Malagasy security forces for using unnecessary and disproportionate force against peaceful protesters in the last weeks.

Opposition supporters argued that Rajoelina should not have run due to acquiring French nationality in 2014, which they claimed automatically revoked his Malagasy nationality, creating unfair election conditions. The “Collectif des 10” had initially requested the elections should be postponed, asserting the need for the appointment of independent officials. When CENI declined, they called for a voter boycott, resulting in a historically low voter turnout of 46.4%.

President Rajoelina first came to power in a 2009 coup, later stepping down and then winning the 2018 election to become president again.

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