Madagascar: Andry Rajoelina re-elected and already contested

A first round dia vita: a first round and “it’s over”

Madagascar: Andry Rajoelina re-elected and already contested

A first round dia vita: a first round and “it’s over”. As he announced, the outgoing president, Andry Rajoelina, 49, won the presidential election in the first round of voting held on Thursday, November 16, with 58.95% of the votes, according to provisional figures published by the Electoral Commission National Independent (CENI), Saturday November 25. These must be confirmed within nine days by the High Constitutional Court (HCC) to become final. The outgoing president is the only candidate to have presented himself to the CENI on Saturday, he was seated next to unoccupied chairs to listen to the proclamation of the results.

The majority of the opposition announced on Friday evening that they would not recognize these results, denouncing a “sham election organized by force”. She had called for a boycott of the election after unsuccessfully demanding a postponement.

The only two candidates to have campaigned – out of the 12 initially in the running against Mr Rajoelina – obtained 14.4% of the votes for ex-judoka Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, and 0.8% for Sendrison Daniela Raderanirina. His most serious adversary, the former head of state Marc Ravalomanana, is, despite his call for a boycott, credited with 12.10% of votes by the electoral commission, following the counting of 4.4 million ballot papers – these were single ballot papers on which the names of all candidates were written.

Central issue of this consultation, the participation rate of 46.36% – close to the 48% of the 2018 presidential election – appears high while many observers had noted the low turnout on the day of November 16.

300,000 ariarys for a ballot paper

Andry Rajoelina deployed significant resources to convince the Malagasy people to grant him a second mandate. Large meetings were organized and money was distributed to voters in exchange for their vote in favor of the presidential party TGV (Tanora malaGasy Vonona – “Determined Young Malagasy”). In front of the party's branches in several cities across the country, crowds gathered the day after the election to demand the promised amount.

Most often 300,000 ariarys (around 65 euros) linked to social safety net programs for the most vulnerable households financed by the World Bank. At the same time, the administration and in particular the teachers who constitute the bulk of the civil servant workforce were mobilized on the orders of the regional directors of education. When they have one, the smartphones of establishment heads have, as Le Monde witnessed, been equipped with an application allowing them to register new members of the orange party – the color of Andry Rajoelina.

The figures proclaimed by the CENI are already contested before the HCC. According to information collected by Le Monde, candidate Siteny filed a request to request “the cancellation of electoral operations throughout the territory” based on a list of results from polling stations that do not comply with the minutes originals. He also filed with the court responsible for ruling on the regularity of the election an action aimed at disqualifying Andry Rajoelina from the race for the supreme office because of his French nationality. The revelation by several media outlets of his obtaining this nationality through naturalization in 2014 – which, according to Malagasy law, strips him of Malagasy nationality – marked the campaign.

A dia vita tour? After demonstrations repressed with tear gas, the opposition fears that Andry Rajoelina, galvanized by his victory, will use more force to silence the protests. The appointment of retired gendarmerie general Richard Ravalomanana as head of the interim presidency during the electoral campaign aroused concern in the ranks of the opposition. The “Bomb General”, as he is nicknamed for his expeditious methods, is one of those who helped Andry Rajoelina, then young mayor of Antananarivo, to overthrow Marc Ravalomanana in a coup d'état in 2009. Intimidation measures more or less direct do not spare even the personalities who for weeks have been urging those in power to dialogue.

During the night from Thursday to Friday, the president of the National Assembly, Christine Razanamahasoa, was forced to flee her residence as a group of hooded men prepared to enter. If there is nothing to link this attempted armed attack and the electoral context, this incident occurs while its mediation and dialogue platform initiative carried out with the World Council of Christian Churches (FFKM) aroused hostility from the presidential camp. “We are no longer safe,” commented Ms. Razanamahasoa soberly on Friday afternoon inside her institution.

Two thirds of the island without electricity

In the middle of the week, another event left its mark. Police opened fire in broad daylight on a 4×4 vehicle, killing its five passengers presented as repeat criminals. The first elements of the investigation revealed that one of them was a former director of the National Institute of Statistics (Instat), well-connected in circles of power.

After a forced withdrawal from the political scene at the end of the transition regime (2009-2013), Andry Rajoelina returned to the head of the country, this time through the ballot box, in 2018. To get the country out of its extreme poverty, the president with a past as an entrepreneur in the communications sector had promised to make up for in five years everything that his predecessors had failed to achieve during the sixty years since independence. But at the end of his mandate, his record was criticized. The Madagascar Emergence Plan (PEM), supposed to outline its policy, has not been finalized and no structural reform has been initiated.

According to various studies carried out in particular by the NGO Ivorary, only 13% of the promises outlined in this plan have been fulfilled, 38% are in progress. Eighteen million inhabitants, or two thirds of the population, are always plunged into darkness after nightfall. The two hydroelectric power station projects, launched more than eight years ago, have in fact become bogged down. Self-sufficiency in rice, the staple cereal, has not been achieved. The flagship vanilla sector has collapsed amid an opaque price-fixing strategy, leaving thousands of small producers behind. Clove exports, also a source of foreign exchange, were suspended without warning. Another symbol, the national company Air Madagascar, heavily in debt, has suspended its international flights. “TGV”, as it has been nicknamed since its meteoric rise at the end of the 2000s, has once again promised a lot to remain the master of the country for another five years.