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Madagascar’s Voters Ask Ruling Party For Money After Disputed Election

An electoral official holds up a ballot paper as votes are counted at a polling station in Antananarivo, on November 16, 2023, during the first round of the Madagascar presidential election. Polls opened on November 16, 2023 in Madagascar’s presidential election, which is being boycotted by most opposition candidates over concerns about the vote’s integrity. (Photo by RIJASOLO / AFP)

AFP journalists witnessed dozens of supporters of Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina queuing to collect their party credentials on Tuesday, believing they were entitled to cash days after a presidential election boycotted by the majority of opposition candidates.

Rajoelina’s party has refuted charges that it promised money in exchange for votes prior to last week’s disputed elections, in which the President sought a second term.

However, since the beginning of the week, many people in one of the world’s poorest countries have been lining up outside the President’s party headquarters in Antananarivo, hoping for a pay-out.

“If the President was in front of me, I would tell him that he promised to provide for our needs in return for our support, because we have always rallied behind him,” Emilienne Razafindramanga, a 44-year-old waste collector, told AFP.

“So, we are now asking for 350,000 ariary ($77)”.

The sum would help her provide for the needs of her poor family, she said.

According to the electoral commission, Rajoelina, 49, is dominating the presidential contest with more than 60 percent of the vote – a figure that would secure him re-election without a run-off.

However, turnout was quite low, at roughly 40%, as 10 of the 12 opposition candidates urged voters to boycott the election, citing a “institutional coup” in favor of the incumbent.

“He made promises to us before the election,” Raveloson Razafindratoandro, a 70-year-old retiree told AFP of Rajoelina, adding he was outside the offices of the ruling Tanora malaGasy Vonona (TGV) party to get a membership card.

“Thanks to this, I can get the money he promised me.”

Rakotondrabe Joselito, a TGV official in Ambohimangakely, about 15 kilometers outside the capital, denied the party promised cash distribution.

Joselito dismissed rumors that the card was similar to a “bank card” by saying it simply granted party membership.

Still it carried some other benefits.

“Later, when there are distributions of donations, those who have this card will be given preferential treatment,” he said.

Madagascar has been in turmoil since June, when media reports showed Rajoelina had acquired French nationality in 2014.

According to local law, the president should have lost his Madagascan nationality, and therefore his authority to rule the country, according to his opponents.

For weeks leading up to the election, the opposition coalition, which included two past presidents, conducted near-daily, largely unofficial protest marches that were repeatedly dispersed by police.

Rajoelina first came to power through a coup in 2009, then boycotted the next elections before making a victorious comeback in 2018.

Final results for the election should be announced later this week.

Written by PH

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