Antananarivo, Nov 16 (EFE).- Around eleven million voters in Madagascar are called this Thursday to participate in the presidential elections, which are being held after a tense electoral campaign, marked by the repression of protests against the outgoing president, Andry Rajoelina, and the call for a boycott by the opposition.
EFE observed a low participation in many voting centers in Antananarivo, the Malagasy capital, despite the fact that the polls opened at 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT).
“Since I became an adult I have always voted and I wanted to perpetuate the tradition despite the political situation,” a 60-year-old woman who identified herself as Lucie told EFE, while waiting for her turn to cast her vote at the polls.
EFE also witnessed a huge police deployment in Antananarivo, after the director of security and intelligence of the Gendarmerie of Madagascar, Zafisambatra Ravoavy, promised to protect “every polling station” in the country, according to a joint statement with the National Police issued this Tuesday.
“It will be enough for those responsible for each polling station to call the Police in case of suspicion of disorder and the agents will come,” he warned.
The streets of the capital have also dawned full of people belonging to citizen security groups, known in Madagascar as “vaomieran’ny fampandriampahalemana” (“peace commissions”).
In addition, the Antananarivo Police imposed a night curfew this Wednesday, which lasted from 9:00 p.m. local time until 4:00 a.m.
This entire security deployment was launched after months of intense protests, in addition to the call to boycott the elections by ten of the country’s thirteen presidential candidates, who joined together last September in a coalition against Rajoelina.
Thus, opponents accuse the president of being behind a plan to modify the electoral results in their favor.
“Every citizen also has the right not to vote if he considers that the elections do not reflect his preferences. We ask our followers not to participate in this electoral farce,” one of the presidential candidates, Jean-Jacques Ratsietison, leader, told EFE this Wednesday. of the IMF-Malagasy party.
Tensions began in September, when Rajoelina resigned as a constitutional requirement in order to seek re-election and the president of the Senate rejected the position of head of state for “personal reasons”, although he revealed a month later that he had received threats against him and his family members. to force him to make that decision.
In his place, Rajoelina’s prime minister, Christian Ntsay, became the new interim head of state, a move the opposition says will allow the resigning president to carry out electoral fraud.
Rajoelina, 49, leader of the Tanora Malagasy Vonona party (TVG, Young Malagasy Willing), will face candidates such as former presidents Marc Ravalomanana (who lost to Rajoelina in 2018) and Hery Rajaonarimanpianina.
The polls at the 27,375 polling stations on this large island in the Indian Ocean will remain open until 5:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. GMT).
As established by law, a second round would be held on December 20 if no candidate achieves an absolute majority.