Political tensions escalated as opposition boycotted presidential election and rejected incumbent President Rajoelina’s win amid crackdown on protests; authorities accused army officers of inciting rebellion.
Opposition parties rejected results of presidential election held on 16 Nov. Electoral commission 25 Nov announced provisional results of presidential poll, with Rajoelina winning 59% of votes and turnout just over 46%. Collective of ten opposition candidates rejected results, claimed election saw lowest voter turnout on record at roughly 20%; at least one opposition candidate in following days lodged appeal with High Constitutional Court to have election annulled.
Security forces clashed with opposition protesters amid calls for election boycott. Ahead of election, police wielding tear gas and stun grenades 4 Nov dispersed opposition-led protest in Antananarivo, arresting 11 people and leaving around 20 injured. Security forces 8 Nov arrested opposition lawmaker Fetra Ralambozafimbololona at demonstration in Antananarivo, sparking violent clashes with protesters which left 16 people injured. President of National Assembly Christine Razanamahasoa 9 Nov endorsed opposition collective’s demand to postpone election and hold consultations on electoral rules, citing procedural irregularities and ongoing unrest. Interim govt next day condemned “attempted institutional coup” by Razanamahasoa. Collective of ten opposition candidates 13 Nov called on voters to boycott presidential election, denouncing “unbearable” actions of electoral commission, top court and incumbent President Rajoelina. Authorities imposed nightly curfew in capital Antananarivo on eve of presidential vote.
Army warned against destabilisation attempt after plot allegations. Country’s top prosecutor 28 Nov said two senior army officers had been detained and charged with “threatening state security” for allegedly inciting soldiers to mutiny ahead of election. Army next day warned against any attempt to destabilise country, said army committed to respecting election’s outcome.
Madagascar’s recent elections marked an ostensible return to democracy, but unless the new government works hard to implement meaningful political, economic and social reforms, the prospect of further crisis is just a matter of time.
While the reality and extent of the coup announced yesterday by military officers is still uncertain, the latest events demonstrate the fragility of the situation in Madagascar and the urgent need for a new international strategy to end the long crisis. Negotiations should now focus on international support to the electoral process based on strict conditions.
Madagascar has been in crisis since the bloody upheavals in early 2009. Several rounds of mediation under the auspices of the African Union (AU) and others have not unlocked the stalemate.
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