Madagascar starts counting ballots in presidential race

Vote counting started on Wednesday evening in Madagascar, where citizens cast their ballots with hopes that a new leader will take this Indian Ocean island nation out of chronic poverty and corruption.

Polls closed late in the afternoon on Wednesday, after a relevantly calm voting day. There were 37 candidates on the ballot papers, with all promising to improve the economy, create jobs and end corruption if they are elected.

But according to political analyst the three leading political leaders in the race are familiar faces and ones who would not offer any dramatic change.

“I was looking forward to this election because the misery in Madagascar is everywhere! Our country is rich! Why are the Malagasy people, for the most part, poor?” said Judith Rasolofo, 52, a housewife with five children. “I want to see something new in Madagascar!”

Bruno Bezara said the first thing he did on the day was to vote, “I was in a hurry to come and vote because it’s very important,” said Bezara, 65. “I want change because there are many things that do not work in our country.”

The three leading candidates are former president’s Marc Ravalomanana, who ruled between 2002 and 2009, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who led the country from 2013 to 2018 and Andry Rajoelina, who was president during the transitional period of 2009 to 2013,.

“We hope that the calm and orderly atmosphere will continue throughout the day and especially after the closing of the polls,” said Christian Preda, head of the European Union Election Observation Mission in Antananarivo. “We hope that these elections will be an opportunity to consolidate the democratic achievements of the Malagasy.”

Preliminary results are expected by November 14 and officials have until November 28 to declare the final outcome.

Photo credit- Brownsville Herald

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