Madagascar: Voting Underway in First Presidential Poll Since 2009 Coup

Photo: IRIN
The referendum is taking place ahead of general elections slated for July

Voting has started in the island nation of Madagascar to elect a president who will hopefully end a five-year crisis that has crippled the country's economy since President Andry Rajoelina seized power in a 2009 military-backed coup.

In all, about 7,697,382 registered voters in Madagascar will be voting across 20,001 polling stations across the country to select from among 33 contesting candidates which includes former Finance Minister Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina who is backed by Mr Rajoelina and Richard Jean-Louis Robinson who is standing for the Avana [Rainbow] party and is being backed by Mr Ravalomanana the country's exiled former president

Political campaign in the lead up to today's vote was peaceful and failed to whip significant interest from citizens who are less optimistic and fear the result will be disputed.

This poll is the first time that Madagascar will computerize their elections. All documents containing the results from polling stations will be scanned and sent by email to Independent National Electoral Commission of the Transition (CENI-T) headquarters in the capital with the aim promoting transparency in the poll and then documents will be sent physically to CENIT headquarters by magistrates, accompanied by police officials.

If none of the 33 candidates gets over 50% of the votes, a second round of election will be held between the top two candidates on December 20, 2013.

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