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MADAGASCAR

Rajoelina set to return as Madagascar's President

Rajoelina, now 44, was installed by the army and ruled until 2014. (File photo, 2014)
Rajoelina, now 44, was installed by the army and ruled until 2014. (File photo, 2014) AFP PHOTO / RIJASOLO

Andry Rajoelina looks set to return to Madagascar's presidency, as partial results from Wednesday's run-off gave him a 10-point lead. Final results, expected next week, may be contested, with presidential rival Marc Ravalomanana claiming vote rigging.

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With three million ballots counted out of some five million cast, Rajoelina had won 55.1 percent to 44.8 percent for Ravalomanana, according to the electoral commission.

Complete results are expected next week, before a period in which they can be legally challenged via the courts.

The two-round election was beset by allegations of fraud from both sides and the result may be contested.
The two-round election was beset by allegations of fraud from both sides and the result may be contested. REUTERS/Clarel Faniry Rasoanaivo

Risk of instability

The two-round election was beset by allegations of fraud from both sides and the result may be contested -- raising the risk of political instability on the Indian Ocean island, which has a history of coups and unrest.

"We are still waiting for the full results but I believe that the current results are irreversible. Victory is ours!" Hajo Andrianainarivelo, a senior member of Rajoelina's team, told AFP.

Hanitra Razafimanantso, a lawmaker close to Ravalomanana, said they demanded transparency over how the vote was being counted.

"We have heard that the publication of the results has been made so far on the basis of scanned return sheets. We demand the actual returns because we suspect manipulation," he said.

Ravalomanana is due to issue a statement on Sunday, the campaign team said.

EU election observers said Friday they had not seen evidence of malpractice.

Bitter rivals

The African Union (AU) congratulated the "two candidates, the entire political class and the Madagascan people who, despite differences (...) have shown restraint."

Rajoelina and Ravalomanana, both former presidents and long-time rivals, have been locked in a fiercely personal duel for power, coming first and second in the preliminary election in November.

The two candidates were both banned from running in the 2013 election as part of an agreement to end recurring crises that have rocked Madagascar since independence from France in 1960.

Ravalomanana, 69, was first elected president in 2002 but was forced to resign seven years later by violent demonstrations supported by Rajoelina, then mayor of the capital Antananarivo.

Rajoelina, now 44, was installed by the army and ruled until 2014. He is a former events planner and successful entrepreneur with slick communication skills.

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