Madagascar goes to polls in latest battle of bitter political feud

ANTANARIVO, May 27 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Madagascar holds parliamentary elections Monday (May 27) in what is being seen as the latest round of a bitter feud between President Andry Rajoelina and his longstanding rival Marc Ravalomanana.

Beaten to the top job in December, Ravalomanana has been everywhere to support the candidates of his TIM (“I Love Madagascar”) party, determined to win what he says is “the third round” of his feud with President Rajoelina.

The two men have dominated politics since the early 2000s, sometimes cooperating but mostly fighting for advantage and high office.

“We were a bit disappointed by the result of the presidential election but we have to pick ourselves back up now,” Ravalomanana told supporters at the start of the parliamentary campaign earlier this month.

“We are winners and we are not going to let ourselves be beaten.”

Rajoelina has not been slow to respond, visiting and inaugurating projects around the country to get his message across.

“We are dedicated to working to change the lives of Madagascans and to develop our country,” he said in a tweeted message after a trip to Diego Suarez in the north last week.

The polls take place after another bout of instability in Madagascar which saw Rajoelina and Ravalomanana put aside their differences last year to oppose new electoral laws introduced by then president Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

After two months of street protests, the government fell and Rajaonarimampianina trailed in a distant third in the presidential election.

It is far from certain that Monday’s vote will produce the stability all say they want – of the 800 candidates fighting for the 151 assembly seats, nearly 500 are standing as independents.

The campaign has been overshadowed in its last days by corruption allegations against more than half the outgoing deputies.

The anti-corruption bureau handed over to prosecutors a list of 79 deputies alleged to have each accepted bribes worth US$14,000 to vote in favour of Rajaonarimampianina’s electoral laws.

Both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana have promised voters they will put an end to such practices. — NNN-AGENCIES


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