Madagascar votes for a president near close of a tense year

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The island nation off the southeast coast of Africa holds a presidential election with 36 candidates on the slate. They include the incumbent, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, and former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka. The winner will be governing a politically tense and impoverished nation.

A second round is scheduled for Dec 19.

Reuters notes that Madagascar remains one of the world’s poorest countries despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals. The political turmoil since independence from France in 1960 has driven away foreign development aid and investment. The investors fled in 2009, when dozens were killed as a result of violent protests in the capital, Antananarivo. The closure of opposition TV and radio stations had sparked the unrest.

From April to June opposition supporters occupied the main square of the capital to denounce new electoral laws, while demanding the resignation of Rajaonarimampianina. Reuters reports that supporters of Ravalomanana, who served as president from 2002 until he was toppled in the 2009 coup, claimed the new laws were intended to block him from running in the election. In May, Rajaonarimampianina approved a new law removing that provision. In June, mounting protests forced Rajaonarimampianina to accept the formation of a consensus government tasked with organizing a fresh poll.

Rajaonarimampianina, elected in 2013, came to power after Rajoelina, who was never elected, was legally barred from standing in the presidential vote that year.

Madagascar to hold presidential elections in November (Reuters Jun 2018)

Madagascar Profile (BBC)

Madagascar's PM schedules presidential elections for Nov 7, Dec 19 (AFP/Africa News Jun 2018)

Date written/update: 2018-09-27