Tension grips Madagascar as election draws near

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This election will mark Madagascar’s third election since 2009 when Rajoelina overthrew Ravalomanana. There have been calls by the opposition to postpone the election further after the High Constitutional Court moved it to November 16 from Nov. 9.

Rajoelina seized power in a 2009 coup, leading to the exit of foreign investors from the Indian Ocean island. In this year’s election, he is running against twelve candidates, including former president Marc Ravalomanana and Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Calls to postpone the elections
Rival candidates have called for a change in leadership within the electoral commission and advocated for the creation of a special court to address disputes related to the voting process. Ten rival candidates including former president Ravalomanana and Rajaonarimampianina have said they want the vote to be postponed.

The leader of Madagascar’s lower house of parliament has also called for the presidential election to be suspended, saying the lawful conditions for the vote had not been met. “The required and necessary conditions for an election in accordance with the law… are not met,” Christine Razanamahasoa said in a statement.

A court in Madagascar on November 9 ordered a one-week delay of the November election, which Andry Rajoelina has opposed.

Rajoelina’s citizenship questioned
Opposition parties are contending that Rajoelina should be barred from running for office because he acquired his French nationality in 2014 which they say automatically nullifies his Malagasy citizenship.

In response, Rajoelina argues that the constitution does not mandate the head of state to exclusively hold Malagasy nationality.

The supporters of the 11 candidates running against Rajoelina on a daily basis hold marches in the capital demanding a postponement of the November elections and the disqualification of Rajoelina. Over the past six weeks of protests, police have routinely used teargas to disperse them. Marchers have been calling for a change in leadership within the electoral commission and advocated for the creation of a special court to address disputes related to the voting process.

Andry Rajoelina
Andry Rajoelina, a 49-year-old entrepreneur and former DJ rose to power in a 2009 coup that ousted investors from the Indian Ocean Island. After almost five years as leader of a transitional authority, he assumed the position of president after winning the 2018 election.

Rajoelina, despite the protests, has encouraged voters to cast their votes on November 16 and ignore claims from the opposition. “It is too bad for those who are not ready, but we must move forward,” he said during a campaign rally in Ambanja, in the north of Madagascar.

Will the election be held?
As of November 14, the court has not received any communication from the leader of the national assembly asking for the presidential vote to be postponed, and the first round is expected to proceed on Thursday, November 16, according to court head Florent Rakotoarisoa.

Officials said they were pressing ahead with plans for Thursday’s first-round ballot, just days after the leader of the lower house of parliament called for the elections to be suspended.

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