[QODLink]
Africa

EU observers give Madagascar vote thumbs-up

Observers from the European Union and southern Africa say election in Indian Ocean island nation was "free and fair".

Last Modified: 28 Oct 2013 11:05
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Many Malagasy voters said they were frustrated by the delays and flaws in the process [AFP]

Madagascar's first presidential election since a military-backed coup was free and fair despite a few irregularities, European Union (EU) and Southern African observers say.

The verdict on the Indian Ocean island's elections came on Sunday, two days after the poll.

The announcements were a boost for Madagascar which needs a credible vote to rebuild investors' confidence and win back aid suspended after dissident troops propelled Andry Rajoelina into power in 2009.

But foreign envoys warned there was still time for an upset. Full results could take as long as a week to emerge and the two front-runners both anticipate a second-round runoff, prolonging the uncertainty.

"This election has been free, transparent and credible," Maria Muniz de Urquiza, head of the EU observer mission, said.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which suspended Madagascar as a member after Rajoelina's power grab, said the vote had "reflected the will of Malagasy people".

By mid-day, the electoral commission (CENIT) had released results from just 1,019 of the 20,001 voting stations dotted across the world's fourth-largest island that is famed for its lemurs and eyed by foreign firms for its oil, nickel, cobalt.

Fancied candidates

Two of the most fancied candidates maintained their early leads. Jean Louis Robinson - backed by the president deposed in 2009, Marc Ravalomanana - is holding steady with about 27 percent of the vote.

His nearest rival, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, a former finance minister under Rajoelina, is polling consistently at just under 16 percent.

Friday's vote was peaceful, but the EU observer mission said the lack of a cap on campaign spending had led to "flagrant inequalities" between candidates. It also noted that a "not negligible percentage" of voters were left off the voter list.

These shortcomings had not prevented the vote running smoothly, said de Urquiza.

Diplomats said they were watching the military, parts of which they say remain opposed to Ravalomanana's return from exile - a scenario widely expected if Robinson wins the vote.

"We've made a big step forward but all the options are open," said one European diplomat, who asked not to be named.

349

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.