afrol News, 10 January - The High Constitutional Court of Madagascar has confirmed that the party of Malagasy President Marc Ravalomanana won a landslide in the 15 December parliamentary elections. The AREMA party of former President Didier Ratsiraka, which won only three out of 160 seats, had filed a complaint to the Court.
According to the High Court, the President's party, Tiako i Madagasikara ("I love Madagascar"), had won the large majority of 102 seats in the Malagasy legislative. Other parties allied to the presidential bloc had gained an additional 21 seats. The AREMA party, which has ruled Madagascar most of the time since a coup in 1975, will have to lead the parliamentary opposition with only three seats. Three further seats were yet to be voted on, the Court announced today in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
'Midi Madagasikara', an Antananarivo daily close to the present government, today hailed the rapid processing by the High Constitutional Court, had taken "less than a month." The daily was also delighted by the smooth election process - in contrast to the December 2001 presidential poll - and the positive assessment given by foreign election observers.
Election observers from the European Union (EU) are to present their final report at an Antananarivo press conference on Monday, 13 January. In a December preliminary statement, the EU observers had welcomed "the fact that the parliamentary elections in Madagascar passed off calmly" after a campaign "free of violent incident." Observers were also pleased that there appeared to have been a high turnout.
The EU Election Observation Mission however also had noted "weaknesses," in particular the electoral rolls, "which could benefit from improvement, and isolated cases of intimidation." The isolated irregularities had led the High Constitutional Court to order a re-run in three constituencies.
As President Ravalomanana's landslide victory is confirmed, the Malagasy power struggle has come to a formal end. The free December 2002 elections, where most Malagasies took part, marked a popular vote of confidence in almost the entire country.
During the political violence between Mr Ravalomanana and ex-President Ratsiraka in early 2002, the island's population still had seemed split. With Mr Ratsiraka in Parisian exile, the Malagasy people however has put its trust in the hands of Mr Ravalomanana and his new-founded party. The President has promised a ruthless offensive against corruption and using his self-made-man recipes in mending the Malagasy economy.
The election results exceeded the most optimistic expectations of the Tiako i Madagasikara party. Believing it had to create a multi-party alliance to assure a parliamentary majority, the President's party now has a comfortable absolute majority in parliament. Also AREMA's total failure came as a surprise. The party however had lacked popular front figures; many AREMA ex-leaders have joined Mr Ravalomanana's party, some went into exile with Mr Ratsiraka and still more boycotted the poll.
Sources: Based on EU, Malagasy govt, press reports and afrol archives