Madagascar Presidential Vote - Rajoelina, Ravalomanana Hold Debate

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

With less than twoweeks to Madagascar's second round presidential vote on December 19, 2018,Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana held their first televised debate on December10, 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 politicalcrisis.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 intopersonal attacks. "You wereleader of the 2009 movement that led a coup d'Etat. Because of this, Madagascar people havebeen 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 thepast. What the people expectof the two of us is what wecan do to save the country.What do our manifestoes propose? I am tempted to say President Ravalomanana's calendarended in 2009!"The runners-off however promisedto put Madagascar back on the rails, with Ravalomanana pledging to eradicate insecurity in 100 days if elected. Rajoelinaon his part promised self-sufficiency in rice production within five years. The tense encounternevertheless endedwith 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 percent of last month's first round presidential vote, while Marc Ravalomanana got 35.29 percent. Incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina came third with 8.84 per cent of thevote. Both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were barred from runningin the last election in2013 under international pressureto 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 havefaced each other in a presidential election. Ravalomanana ruled Madagascar from 2002to 2009 until he was over thrown in 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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