Two Ex-Presidents Set to Compete in Madagascar Runoff Election

(Bloomberg) -- Two of Madagascar’s former presidents are set to face each other in a runoff election next month after failing to win a clear majority in a Nov. 7 ballot.

With results counted from 95 percent of voting stations, ex-leaders Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana garnered 39.4 percent and 34.8 percent respectively, the electoral commission said on Friday. Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who resigned in September to seek re-election to lead the world’s biggest vanilla grower, obtained 8.9 percent, it said.

A runoff vote is scheduled for Dec. 19 if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Whoever wins that vote is likely to have an axe to grind, Liesl Louw-Vaudran, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, said in a Nov. 14 research note.

Rajoelina, a 44-year-old former nightclub DJ, deposed Ravalomanana with the help of the military in 2009. Ravalomanana, 68, fled to South Africa, where he lived in exile until returning to Madagascar five years later. Both were barred from running in the 2013 election that brought Rajaonarimampianina to power.

“For Rajoelina and Ravalomanana, much is at stake,” Louw-Vaudran said. “Rajoelina has to improve his reputation of being merely a young DJ who stole the presidency from his predecessor.”

Ravalomanana feels he was cheated out of another term as president, after being deposed in 2009 and then being barred from competing in 2013, she said.

“He is also a wealthy businessman who wants to recover what he lost while in exile and under house arrest after his rather mysterious return to the country in 2014,” Louw-Vaudran said.

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