Madagascar presidential poll: Ex-leader holds slim lead

Source:Reuters Published: 2018/11/8 22:03:41

Counting of votes from a presidential poll was underway in Madagascar early Thursday with former leader Andry Rajoelina commanding a slim lead in early results from a small number of polling stations.

Preliminary results from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released early Thursday from about a hundred polling stations out of more than 24,000 showed Rajoelina ahead of his two main rivals with 44.4 percent of the vote.

The poll pits Rajoelina against incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina who is seeking a second term in office and another former leader Marc Ravalomanana. The contest has drawn a total of 36 candidates.

Voters are eager to get a winner who will tackle the impoverished Indian Ocean island's myriad problems including unemployment and corruption.

Ernest Razafindraibe, an electoral official told Reuters voter turnout was 45 percent.

"Even if the results are not yet official, the trend of victory of the Malagasy people and Madagascar is emerging," Rajoelina told his supporters late Wednesday at his campaign headquarters in the capital.

Ravalomanana, too promised victory to his supporters, "I encourage you to be calm and to be careful, not to take into account some misleading figures...we will win, do not worry."

Because of the unusual high number of contestants, few expect an outright winner and the poll is widely expected to go into a second round. This would involve only the two top candidates and would be held on December 19.

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