Their remarks were expected Forty-eight hours after a day of voting shunned by the population, the three groups of international observers, African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC in English) and International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF ), presented on Saturday November 18, the first results of their mission and called – in a more or less direct way – the government to open a consultation in order to emerge from the crisis in which Madagascar has been sinking for several months.
The African Union has sent the clearest message: “We take note of the holding of the presidential election on Thursday, November 16” declared the head of the electoral observation mission, the Central African Catherine Samba-Panza before“we strongly urge the government to establish a framework for dialogue (…) bringing together all active forces in order to find a solution to the political crisis”. The OIF, for its part, wished “the restoration of confidence and the rule of law” in order to preserve the stability of the country. The SADC expressed itself with more restraint.
Rajoelina on track to be re-elected
Despite the semantic precautions of diplomats, the message was very poorly received by the camp of the outgoing president, Andry Rajoelina. “There has never been a political crisis. There were only a few unrest caused by candidates who were afraid to go to the polls. replied the former Minister of Culture and Communication, Lalatiana Rakotondrazafy, interviewed by The world. “All of Madagascar experienced the campaign period and election day in the greatest calm and serenity. None of the observers questioned this electoral process. We calmly await the results. We will take note of this and then prepare for the inauguration. »
According to the partial results published Sunday morning by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Andry Rajoelina recorded 63% of the votes for a participation rate of 42.3% compared to 54% in 2018. The outgoing president is therefore moving towards a re-election in the first round as he had announced to his supporters.
The collective of 10 opposition candidates, who launched a call for a boycott not to support this project “electoral masquerade”says he is disappointed by the statements of international observers. “It’s been weeks since we alerted them to the situation, no (international organisation) did not reactremembers Hajo Andrianainarivelo, president of the MMM (Malagasy Miara Miainga) party. Their call for dialogue does not resolve the fact that the Malagasy vote was stolen. We would have preferred that they intervened upstream to defuse the crisis rather than realizing it when it is too late. »
The first assessments made by the SADC on the vote of November 16 qualified as “generally peaceful and free from irregularities” also leaves skeptics. “They got lost in Madagascar or they are blind”, commented Mr. Andrianainarivelo, recalling that SADC visited 209 polling stations out of a total of more than 27,000.
The observation of the emissaries of the regional organization to which Madagascar belongs is in any case far from being shared by the independent Safidy observatory which carried out the largest observation mission with 5,000 representatives deployed in all regions. While observing the voting process “without major incidents”the civil society association whose work was financed by the European Union, points out multiple irregularities: people not registered on the lists and without identity documents authorized to vote, unsecured transport of voting materials, purchase of votes by distribution of money and promise to benefit from social programs once the candidate…
“Observers have particularly noticed the exploitation by the supporters of candidate number 3 (Andry Rajoelina) Tosika Fameno, a social protection program dedicated to the most vulnerable households by promising them 100,000 ariary (around 22 euros) per month in exchange for their membership in the TGV party (that of Andry Rajoelina) and vote for him”, explained communications manager Carinah Ranaivojaonina, presenting a preliminary report to the press. Distributions of money, most often in the amount of 30,000 ariary, were also noted ahead of the vote. Observers were the target of threats at polling stations like no other election campaign before.
At this stage, none of the international missions have commented on whether or not the vote should be validated. This can only take place once all the data collected by the observers have been processed, that is to say within one month.
Laurence Carmel(Antananarivo, special correspondent)