Madagascar heads to runoff election on December 19

In Madagascar, two former heads of state qualified for the second round of the presidential election, to be held on December 19.

Andry Rajoelina, president of the transitional period of 2009 to 2014, won 39% of the vote and Marc Ravalomanana, president from 2002 to 2009, received 35% of the vote.

The remainder of the votes were split up between the 34 other candidates. A candidate must win more than 50% of the vote to become president.

The second round will be a competition between the two main protagonists of Madagascar's 2009 crisis, who each responded on Sunday to the results.

"Despite the anomalies noted during the first round of the presidential election, I thank the Malagasy people for the calm and the commendable behaviour they have shown, especially for the defence of their choice. The next step is preparation for the second round of the election," said Marc Ravalomanana on his Facebook page.

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Andry Rajoelina called for "a broad rally to save Madagascar" and questioned the work of the national electoral commission, known by its French acronym CENI. "I support the true democracy and regret that the treatment of results by the CENI has not been transparent. "This will, of course, not prevent us from winning, with the support of all of you, we will return to Madagascar its pride," he said on his Twitter account.

The outgoing President of the Republic, Hery Rajaonarimampianina was far behind in third place, with 8.8%. Rajaonarimampianina on Saturday joined other minority candidates in challenging the results at the High Constitutional Court, the highest court of the country, urging the cancellation of the November 7th ballot, citing voting irregularities.

Only 54% of Madagascar's nearly 10 million registered voters actually cast their ballots, below the first round of the 2013 presidential election where the participation rate was 61%.

The High Constitutional Court has until November 26 to validate the results of the first round.

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