It is finally election day in Madagascar. The elections have been postponed three times this year alone, since the 2009 coup catapulted the country to international pariah status. The BBC has a comprehensive summary of the events of the last four years leading to this less than perfect electoral situation:
The polls will be run by the Independent National Electoral Commission of the Transition (Cenit) – an independent electoral body funded by the United Nations.
No firm date has been set to announce the results but if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes cast, a second round will be held on 20 December, along with the parliamentary elections.
Cenit says there are 7,697,382 registered voters and 20,115 polling stations in Madagascar, a country the size of France with a scattered population.
Since this morning, voters have been lining up to cast their ballots and choose the future President from among an unprecedented 33 candidates.
Citoyenne Malgache is among those who were eager to vote.
Donc dès 6h30, j’étais présente sur les lieux de vote. Il y avait déjà du monde, et c’était calme. Des responsables m’ont gentiment orienté vers le bureau où je pouvais vérifier si mon nom figurait sur la liste. Des centaines de cartes y attendaient que leur propriétaire vienne les réclamer. Une responsable parcourt le listing des 4 bureaux de vote pour chercher mon nom. Elle me demande si je veux faire le miala nenina et appelle un autre responsable qui reconsulte consciencieusement les 4 listes avant de me demander si j’avais reçu la carte bleue. Une dame au regard inquisiteur me pose la question : Avez-vous voté lors du referendum ? La réponse est non.
Bref, on me dit de venir m’inscrire au bureau du Fokontany dès lundi pour pouvoir voter au 2ème tour. Mais il n’est pas encore sûr que j’aurai encore envie de voter à ce moment là.
Allons-enfants de la patrie, le jour de vote est arrivé. Mais ce n’est pas encore aujourd’hui que j’aurai le droit de m’exprimer. Pour moi, aujourd’hui n’aura été qu’un bâillon de plus. Et aussi un pont de plus que je vais pour une fois apprécier.
At 6:30 am, I was at the voting area. There were already people there, and things were calm. Those in charge politely directed me to the office where I was able to verify if my name was on the electoral list. Hundreds of voting cards were waiting for their owners to claim them. The lady in charge reads through the listing for four polling stations, looking for my name. She asks me if I want to make a last hope request and calls another person, who consciously reads the four lists again, before asking me if I had received the blue card. A lady looks at me questioningly and asks whether I invoted during the referendum. The answer is no.
Finally, they tell me I can come and register at the Fokontany office from Monday onwards, so I'd be able to vote in the run-off elections. But I'm not sure that I will want to vote at that time.
Allons-enfants de la patrie, voting day has arrived! But today isn't yet the day that I'll have the right to exercise that right. For me, today will be will be nothing more than yet another gag. And also one more bridge that I shall for once be able appreciate.
On the ground, voters tweet about irregularities.
Urgent: d'après le candidat Rajemison sur sa page fb officielle, distribution d'argent à ambohibao pour appeler à voter Hery n'3 #mdg2013
— Randria_09 (@Randria_09) October 25, 2013
Urgent: According to the candidate, Rajemison, on his official Facebook page, in Ambohibao they're paying voters to vote for Hery, #3 candidate.
— Emilie Filou (@EmilieFilou) October 25, 2013
Pictures? RT @Zahavato: In Mahanoro, candidate #3 (Hery) has been continuing to campaign: putting up posters. Source : Mahitsy Fijery Observers
Tahina tweets a picture of the single ballot:
— Tahina (@r1lita) October 25, 2013
On the HuffingtonPost, Jason Pack, a researcher of African History at Cambridge University and President of Libya-Analysis.com, is skeptical about the outcome.
Malagasies will supposedly choose who will lead them through these turbulent times. Because that choice is likely to be little more than an electoral farce, the international community will also have to make a choice. Will they turn a blind eye to electoral manipulation and rampant “irregularities” while congratulating themselves in diplomatic circles for steering Madagascar back to democracy? Or will they send a message that governments that come to power by breaking the key rules of democracy do not get rewarded with aid and diplomatic recognition?
Unfortunately, it seems most likely that the reality in Madagascar will once more be obscured by a cartoon caricature.
Finally, in a humorous tweet, Faly Kizitina (“The happy grumbler”), wonders how hard the SADC election observers are really working (there are 300 SADC observers deployed in Madagascar).
— Faly Kizitina (@kizitina) October 25, 2013