Madagascar heads to polls amid opposition boycott

Madagascar heads to polls amid opposition boycott
Madagascar heads to polls amid opposition boycott

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Madagascar’s outgoing president and candidate for re-election Andry Rajoelina addresses supporters during his final presidential campaign rally. — Reuters pic

ANTANANARIVO, Nov 16 — Madagascar’s voters headed to polls early today in a presidential election boycotted by 10 out of 12 opposition candidates and marred by weeks of violent protests.

Despite a night-time curfew imposed on Wednesday, the security presence was scarce across the capital as polling stations opened.

President Andry Rajoelina, who is seeking a third term, faces growing isolation after leading opposition figures, including two former presidents, declared him unfit to run and called on their supporters to abstain from voting.

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Rija Ralijaona, a 26-year-old day labourer, said she expected whoever wins the election to reduce unemployment.

“I expect the next president to create jobs for young people,” she said, as she prepared to cast her vote at dawn.

Calls by the opposition to postpone the elections were echoed by the organisation grouping Madagascar’s four biggest Christian churches, which declared on Wednesday that it would not observe the vote, citing an unsuitable political environment and lack of standards.

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Provisional results are expected to be released on November 24, said Soava Andriamarotafika, a spokesperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission. — Reuters

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