afrol News, 19 December - Opposition candidate and Antananarivo Mayor, Marc Ravalomanana, leads the Malagasy poll for presidency as most of the votes are counted. His lead from over 50 percent is however shrinking, indicating there will be a second poll round.
The controversial presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana has a clear lead after Sunday's poll, still counting on 50 percent of the votes. Incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka meanwhile seems to stabilise on 39 percent.
As the leading trends for Ravalomanana are pointing towards forty-something, a second poll round between him and President Ratsiraka in February next year seems unavoidable. Ravalomanana however claims fraud at the polling stations are causing his downward trend in the count, saying he won the election in the first round.
The results published by the Malagasy Interior Ministry first showed a big lead for Ravalomanana (close to 60 percent), which is now narrowing down. Rather than blaming the shifting numbers on fraud, Malagasy analysts say they reflect the first arrival of results from the capital, Antananarivo, while now rural votes are registered. Ratsiraka's position is stronger in rural areas.
However, even Ratsiraka is claiming irregularities in the Antananarivo results. The campaign director of the Presidential party, Pascal Rakotomavo, told the news agency PANA about his intention to file for the cancellation of results from Antananarivo polling stations, where "the number of envelopes was higher than that of voters."
A group of poll observers yesterday had reported "serious irregularities" from several poll stations around the country, especially rural ones. Several lists had been manipulated.
Madagascar's leading newspaper, 'Midi Madagascar', predicts a clear victory for Ravalomanana, but fears President Ratsiraka and his party may try to organise an "electoral hold-up". "One might wonder why Ratsiraka's supporters were so confident about their victory on Monday, while the published results showed something else," the Antananarivo daily asks.
The Antananarivo Mayor had done very well in rural districts as well, 'Midi Madagascar' analysed the numbers. In fact Ravalomanana was threatening President Ratsiraka in his very strongholds.
Final results from the Malagasy presidential elections are not expected to arrive within the first days.
The temperature had been high in the Malagasy electoral campaign, which, on its onset, President Ratsiraka was sure to win. As the Antananarivo Mayor and successful businessman Ravalomanana started to threaten the position of the President, personal attacks against him were launched by all sides.
President Ratsiraka alleged Ravalomanana lacked the required political experience to lead the country. On the other hand, ex-President and candidate Albert Zafy accused Ravalomanana of being "an opportunist with several financial scandals behind him." Ravalomanana however only seemed to gain from all the publicity given to his person.