Madagascar President Rajoelina cements lead in boycotted election

By Lovasoa Rabary

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Madagascar’s incumbent President Andry Rajoelina has cemented his lead in an election marked by low turnout and an opposition boycott, and appeared poised to secure a third term on Monday, with over a third of voting centres reporting results.

Rajoelina, a 49-year-old entrepreneur and former DJ who first rose to power on the Indian Ocean island in a 2009 coup, had garnered 62.9% of the vote by late on Sunday, from a turnout of just 43.1%, preliminary results shared by the election commission showed.

Opposition protesters clashed with police on several occasions in the run-up to the poll, saying Rajoelina should not have run because he acquired French nationality in 2014 – which they say automatically revokes his Malagasy one – and had created unfair election conditions.

Leading opposition figures, including two former presidents, declared him unfit to run and called on their supporters to abstain from voting.

Rajoelina says the accusations are baseless political tactics.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; writing by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Hereward Holland and Bernadette Baum)