11 December 2018

Madagascar Presidential Vote - Rajoelina, Ravalomanana Debate

Photo: L'Express Mada
Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina (file photo).

The televised discussion on December 10, 2018 for the runoff poll focused on personality rather than issues.

With less than two weeks to Madagascar's second round presidential vote on December 19, 2018, Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana held their first televised debate on December 10, 2018, Tribune Madagascar newspaper reported. Hosted by two journalists of TVM and RNM channels, the debate turned out to be an avenue for settling scores between the protagonists of the 2009 political crisis.

At the end, the general observation was that the candidates avoided subjects put up for debate like insecurity, corruption and economic development, and instead veered off into personal attacks. "You were leader of the 2009 movement that led a coup d'Etat. Because of this, Madagascar people have been trapped in a cycle of poverty," former President Marc Ravalomanana alleged. To which his opponent, Andry Rajoelina, retorted: "Each time I debate with President Ravalomanana, I am surprised that he keeps talking about the past. What the people expect of the two of us is what we can do to save the country. What do our manifestoes propose? I am tempted to say President Ravalomanana's calendar ended in 2009!"

The runners-off however promised to put Madagascar back on the rails, with Ravalomanana pledging to eradicate insecurity in 100 days if elected. Rajoelina on his part promised self-sufficiency in rice production within five years. The tense encounter nevertheless ended with a handshake by the two presidential candidates who are due to meet again for another televised debate in a week's time.

Andry Rajoelina took 39.19 per cent of last month's first round presidential vote, while Marc Ravalomanana got 35.29 per cent. Incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina came third with 8.84 per cent of the vote. Both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were barred from running in the last election in 2013 under international pressure to avoid a repeat of the deadly political violence that engulfed the island in 2009. Ravalomanana, 68, and Rajoelina, 44, are bitter rivals.

It is the first time the two have faced each other in a presidential election. Ravalomanana ruled Madagascar from 2002 to 2009 until he was overthrown in a military-backed coup that installed Rajoelina - a former mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. Andry Rajoelina was in power until 2014.

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