Ravalomanana's party threatens protests

2014-01-05 12:38

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Antananarivo - The party of Madagascar's ousted president Marc Ravalomanana on Saturday warned the electoral panel it would face "the people's wrath" if it declares electoral victory for the rival camp.

The outgoing leadership's candidate, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, won 53.5% of the vote in a 20 December presidential runoff, according to official results.

But his rival, Robinson Jean Louis, filed several challenges with the Special Electoral Court (SEC), claiming the ballot was rigged in favour of strongman Andry Rajoelina's man.

"You in the SEC... don't think you can swindle the people," Roland Ravatomanga, the leader of Ravalomanana's movement, said at gathering in the capital Antananarivo.

"We do not intend to terrorise you or threaten you but we are just warning you: beware for you might incur the people's wrath," he added. "Don't make us do anything silly."

"We have a trusted jurist sitting on the SEC. If we find out ahead of time that it's not going our way, we are sorry to say that the people will rise up," he told a crowd of Ravalomanana supporters in Malagasy.

Incitement

Speaking in French to foreign reporters moments later, he was more measured. "I never called for street protests," he said.

"If the population wants to take to the streets, it is not our duty to stop them, it is their right," he added.

A top police official warned against incitement.

Incumbent president Rajoelina seized power from his rival Ravalomanana with the backing of the army in 2009, sending the country's economy into free-fall.

According to the World Bank, the ensuing crisis cost the Indian Ocean island nation at least $8bn.

The island's two main political players - Rajoelina and Ravalomanana - were barred from running in the polls amid fears of a return to violence.

They instead backed proxy candidates who went head-to-head in a run-off poll last month after an inconclusive first round in October.

Despite the mud-slinging, international observers gave the vote the green light and called on the parties to respect the electoral process.

Read more on:    marc ravalomanana  |  madagascar  |  southern africa
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