Madagascar’s Voters Ask Ruling Party For Money After Disputed Election

Rajoelina's party has denied allegations it has promised money in exchange for votes ahead of last week's disputed elections, where the President was seeking another term.


Madagascar presidential election
An electoral official holds up a ballot paper as votes are counted at a polling station in Antananarivo, on November 16, 2023, during the first round of the Madagascar presidential election. Polls opened on November 16, 2023 in Madagascar’s presidential election, which is being boycotted by most opposition candidates over concerns about the vote’s integrity. (Photo by RIJASOLO / AFP)

 

Dozens of supporters of Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina queued to collect their party cards on Tuesday, believing it entitled them to cash days after a presidential election boycotted by most opposition candidates, AFP journalists saw.

Rajoelina’s party has denied allegations it has promised money in exchange for votes ahead of last week’s disputed elections, where the President was seeking another term.

But since the beginning of the week, many in what is one of the world’s poorest countries have lined up outside the President’s party offices in Antananarivo, seeking a pay-out.

“If the President was in front of me, I would tell him that he promised to provide for our needs in return for our support, because we have always rallied behind him,” Emilienne Razafindramanga, a 44-year-old waste collector, told AFP.

“So, we are now asking for 350,000 ariary ($77)”.

The sum would help her provide for the needs of her poor family, she said.

Rajoelina, 49, is leading the presidential race, with a preliminary tally giving him more than 60 percent of the vote — a share that would secure him re-election without a run-off, according to the electoral commission.

But turnout was fairly low, at around 40 percent, after 10 of 12 opposition candidates urged voters to shun the ballot complaining of an “institutional coup” in favour of the incumbent.

“He made promises to us before the election,” Raveloson Razafindratoandro, a 70-year-old retiree told AFP of Rajoelina, adding he was outside the offices of the ruling Tanora malaGasy Vonona (TGV) party to get a membership card.

“Thanks to this, I can get the money he promised me.”

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Rakotondrabe Joselito, a TGV official in Ambohimangakely, some 15 kilometres outside the capital denied the party promised to hand out cash.

The card only conferred party membership, Joselito said dismissing rumours it was akin to a “bank card”.

Still it carried some other benefits.

“Later, when there are distributions of donations, those who have this card will be given preferential treatment,” he said.

Madagascar has been in turmoil since media reports in June revealed Rajoelina had acquired French nationality in 2014.

Under local law, the president should have lost his Madagascan nationality, and with it, the ability to lead the country, his opponents said.

For weeks ahead of the vote, the opposition grouping, including two former presidents, led near-daily, largely unauthorised protest marches that were regularly dispersed by police.

Rajoelina first took power in 2009 on the back of a coup, then skipped the following elections only to make a winning comeback in 2018.

Final results for the election should be announced later this week.

AFP