Malagasy justice validates Rajoelina’s election to the presidency

Malagasy justice confirmed on Tuesday the victory of former head of state Andry Rajoelina in the presidential election last month unsurprisingly rejecting all accusations of fraud of his rival Marc Ravalomanana.

"Is declared elected President of the Republic Andry Rajoelina", launched the president of the High Constitutional Court (HCC), Jean-Eric Rakotoarisoa, after having methodically considered "unfounded" all the requests for cancellation of the poll.

His sentence was greeted by the cheering of hundreds of Rajoelina's supporters gathered in front of the institution's headquarters in Antananarivo, protected by the security forces.

Present at the hearing, Mr. Ravalomanana left the HCC without making any statement, dodging with a smile the solicitations of the press.

His rival, also present, was later to speak at his campaign headquarters, according to his entourage.

Last month, the Electoral Commission (Ceni) announced the clear victory of Andry Rajoelina, 44, by giving him 55.66% of the vote in the second round played on December 19, against 44.34% of his predecessor the head of the country.

Mr. Ravalomanana, 69, had immediately seized the HCC on the grounds of "massive fraud".

In recent days, hundreds of his supporters have demonstrated repeatedly in the Malagasy capital, despite the ban on the authorities to demand the "truth of the ballot box". Violent incidents opposed them to the police.

Immediately after reading his judgment, the president of the HCC insisted that his institution had "done its job in fairness and justice". "We did not give in to any pressure," insisted Jean-A�ric Rakotoarisoa.

The presidential election last month was held without major incident but it was the scene of a fierce battle between MM. Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, who have dominated the political life of the Big Island for more than ten years.

In power since 2002, Marc Ravalomanana, who made his fortune in dairy products, was forced to resign in 2009 in the face of a wave of violent protests fomented by Andry Rajoelina, an ex-publicist at the time mayor of Antananarivo.

- Concerns -

The latter was then installed by the army at the head of a transitional presidency he left in 2014.

The two men had been banned from running for president in 2013 as part of a post-crisis agreement approved by the international community.

Their confrontation in the 2018 election quickly turned to settling personal accounts, the two men accusing themselves of being responsible for the corruption and economic crisis affecting their country, one of the poorest on the planet .

In the first round in October, Rajoelina took the lead with 39% of the vote against 35% to Ravalomanana. The third major candidate, outgoing President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, had been swept with less than 9% of the vote.

As soon as the ballot box closed on the evening of the second round on December 19, the two rivals had shouted at fraud and manipulation.

The foreign observers, those of the European Union and of the African Union (AU) in particular, have on the contrary affirmed to have observed no significant irregularity during the ballot.

In a country accustomed to periods of political instability since its independence from France in 1960, these post-election tensions have revived the fear of a new crisis.

Present Monday at the traditional ceremony of greetings for the new year to the presidency, Marc Ravalomanana had blown hot and cold on his intentions after the verdict of the HCC.

"There were irregularities and failures in this election," he repeated to the press, "I will respect the result if he respects the truth of the polls."

Many hope that reason will prevail in the country, under the watchful eye of international donors.

"The majority of the population wants an appeasement," assured AFP the former minister and unfortunate candidate in the first round, Paul Rabary. "Everyone wants to turn the page," added political analyst Sahondra Rabenarivo.

The investiture of the new president is scheduled around January 25.

Source: Seychelles News Agency