The political crisis in Madagascar further worsened on Tuesday, November 14, two days before the first round of the presidential election, with the collective bringing together ten opposition candidates unanimously calling on the Malagasy not to go to the polls.
“We reject Thursday’s election and we call on all Malagasy people to consider that this election does not exist,” declared candidate and opponent Hajo Andrianainarivelo, 56, on behalf of the collective, during a press conference in the capital Antananarivo.
Since the beginning of October, peaceful demonstrations and marches called by the collective have multiplied. And tensions have recently escalated.
Regularly dispersed by tear gas jets from the police, the demonstrators responded on Saturday with homemade devices, noted AFP journalists. Several people have been injured in recent weeks and opponents briefly arrested.
Thirteen candidates are officially in the running for the vote, including outgoing president Andry Rajoelina, 49 years old. The ten members of the collective refused to campaign while the government candidate, who says he is counting on a victory in the first round, has in recent weeks rallied thousands of supporters across the four corners of the country where he has traveled by helicopter. or by private plane.
An opponent initially a member of the collective, Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, ultimately went it alone and decided to travel the country to collect votes. Another candidate has remained discreet and has so far not taken a position.
Fear of instability
Rajoelina’s government has repeatedly condemned a “desire to overthrow power” And “sabotage the electoral process”, accusing the opposition of “threaten the stability of the country”. The fear of a new transition period plunging the country into instability is on everyone’s lips, in one camp or the other.
Independent from France in 1960, the former colony, which is among the poorest countries on the planet, has rarely experienced an election that was not preceded by a military transition or followed by protests.
The dual nationality of the head of state
This time, it is the question of Rajoelina’s dual nationality which ignited the powder. In June, the press revealed that the outgoing head of state had discreetly acquired French nationality in 2014.
According to the opposition, which invokes the Nationality Code, Andry Rajoelina has therefore lost his Malagasy nationality: he can therefore no longer govern or be eligible for a second term. However, the courts rejected outright the appeals demanding that his candidacy be invalidated.
Another trigger was the appointment as head of the interim government, supposed to ensure current affairs during the electoral period, of the Prime Minister and close to Rajoelina, Christian Ntsay. The President of the Senate, who was to carry out these functions according to the Constitution, was removed under unclear circumstances.
The collective of opponents, which denounces “an institutional coup d’état” and condemns a justice system as well as an electoral commission “at the heel of power”, calls for a suspension of the electoral process and the intervention of the international community.
The President of the National Assembly, at the head of mediation between the two camps which has so far not borne fruit, last week supported the idea of a suspension.
Opponents also denounce irregularities in the organization of the vote. According to them, some voters have not been registered while others appear several times on the lists. They also mention the existence of “thousands of fictitious polling stations”.
The vote, initially scheduled for November 9, was postponed for a week last month following the injury of a candidate during a demonstration. The United States and the European Union expressed their “concern” and denounced a disproportionate use of force against the opposition.
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