NEWSROOM (ADV) – Madagascar votes this Wednesday for a new president in unprecedented polls in which the three front-runners are former heads of state facing-off amid efforts to defuse a political crisis.
Attempts by the most recent president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, to change the large Indian Ocean island’s electoral laws backfired, sparking nearly three months of sometimes violent protests in the capital Antananarivo.
Malgasy people are hoping their lives to change after this new episode in their country’s modern history.
Local residents in Antanarivo’s suburbs reported inconsistencies in how ballots are being organized.
A number of the less-fancied candidates have alleged irregularities in Wednesday’s voters roll and unsuccessfully called for the polls to be delayed.
Campaign spending has also presented a source of controversy. There are no laws capping the financing of candidates’ bids for office, prompting concerns some contenders have disproportionately large election war chests.
A study by the European Union, which came out in 2016, claimed the campaign budget of the winner in 2013 (Rajaonarimampianina) was $43m, meaning he spent more per-voter than US President Donald Trump did (in the 2016 US election).
Polling in Madagascar has been prone to instability since 2002, and long-running disputes between three of the main candidates risk destabilizing the country anew.
In May 2015, the country’s parliament votes overwhelmingly to dismiss Rajaonarimampianina for alleged constitutional violations and general incompetence.
Rajaonarimampianina challenges the legality of the move and in mid-June the country’s constitutional court throws out the impeachment demand.
Between April and June 2018 demonstrators take to Antananarivo’s central square in protest over Rajaonarimampianina’s efforts to change electoral laws that opponents say are intended to favour his party.
The courts overturn the proposals but the protests turn into a full-blown movement to oust Rajaonarimampianina.
The events of 2018 prompted an exodus of foreign investors from a country that is one of the world’s poorest despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals.
© Bur-csa – A.H / N.A – African Daily Voice (ADV)