Polls have closed in Madagascar's crunch elections expected to restore democracy and attract desperately needed
foreign aid after a 2009 coup plunged the island nation into crisis.

Officials pulled down shutters at polling stations at 5pm (14:00GMT) on Friday, having opened 11 hours earlier in this deeply impoverished country.

Voting was generally peaceful, despite isolated incidents including the murder of a local government official in a polling station, which authorities said was unrelated to the polls, reported AFP news agency.

A polling station in the north was also torched as voters sought to end a crisis which has crippled the Indian Ocean island since President Andry Rajoelina, 39, ousted Marc Ravalomanana four years ago.

However, some polling stations remained open so as to allow voters who had arrived ahead of the official closing time, but who were still in the queue, to cast their ballot.

This is the country's first national vote since a military-backed coup plunged the country into crisis and poverty, and it is expected that a peaceful and credible election will see much-needed Western aid resume.

Source: Agencies