On Friday October 25, presidential elections will take place in Madagascar. This is a very long anticipated moment for the much of the country's population who hope it will bring change, progress and above all the prospect of an end to the crisis.
It is not only the population who await a positive outcome but also the presidential candidates who have each done their best during the electoral campaign period. This period has proved useful for getting to know each of the candidates, especially those who are not very well known to the wider audience.
Some, like Olivier Fridolin M have been asking who to choose on Facebook [mg]:
Dia iza izany no fidiana? Sarotra koa miverina @ naloha eh!
Who to choose?… challenging to see the same political parties as frontrunners again
Or even Diamondra Hajanirina R :
D iz zan no ho fidina e?????
Who to vote for?
33 candidates should be accessible and visible to everyone, whether on television and radio a well as on social networking sites like Facebook. Only half of then (16) have exposure across the whole country (in rural regions and towns). Some of the candidates appear calm and moderate, while others’ campaigns are vocal and frenetic (posters, t-shirts and other campaign materials).
Also on Facebook, one journalist, Domoina Rasamoelson, asks:
Lojika manao ahoana ary izany no hiheverana kandidà fa ho lany izy. Ny isan'ny olona nanatrika ve ? Ny isan'ny t-shirt sy ny zavatra nozaraina ve ? Ny horakoraka azony ve ? Ny vola natsipitsipy teny rehetra teny ve ? Ny zava-misy mantsy, rehefa zahana toa ny lalambe ihany no nahita endrika ny kandidà izay nanana fahefana nanao propagandy fa ireo izay tsy nanana kosa nampiasa ny TVM no nataony fa ny tsy fantatr'izy ireto dia izao : zara raha manana jiro 4 ora ny mponina any amin'ny faritra maro, zara raha todin'ny fiara any aminy ary ny mampalahelo indrindra dia mbola eo koa ny hoe sady tsy mahay mamaky teny ny be no sady tsy mahay manoratra…
By what logic do the candidates believe they will be elected? The number of t-shirts and gifts? Clamour and applause? Cash hand-outs here and there? In fact, when you take a closer look, only the faces of those in power are seen on the main arteries of any town while images of those who do not have money are only broadcast by Malagasy national TV. What these candidate are not aware of is that electricity is only available for 4 hours a day in many isolated regions; and what is worse still, many are illiterates who can neither read nor write.
The 16 candidates with the most exposure across the whole country are:
Hajo Herivelona Andrianainarivelo
Edgard Marie Noé Razafindravahy
Hery MArtial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina
Jean Louis Robinson Richard
Rolland Iarovana Ratsiraka
Camille Vital Albert
Rabeharisoa Sarah Georget
Rabemanantsoa Brigitte Ihantanirina
Willy Sylvain Rabetsaroana
Fetison Rakoto Andrianirina
Venance Patrick Raharimanana
Randriamampionona Joseph Martin (Dadafara)
Rakotokely Lydia remains doubtful about the means by which this campaign has been carried out [mg]:
“Samy manana ny fomba handresen’ny lahatra ireo vahoaka mpifidy avokoa ireo Kandidà ireo ka zary lasa fijerena ny fahafaha-manaon’ireo Kandidà ilay fampielezan-kevitra.
“Each candidate has their own method of convincing the voters, to the extent that this electoral campaign actually boils down to a demonstration of media and communications tools
The question many are asking is therefore: what has happened to the other candidates? Have their already thrown in the towel?
Some say that these candidates do not have any means of distribution or their distribution is limited to their villages (going door to door), or they are actually preparing for legislative elections. Some may have even withdrawn their presidential candidacy altogether in order to support a different candidate.
Another reason will be the refusal of the “single ballot”, a concept which has provoked much debate within the country around the fact that rural populations living away from urban centres will not understand how the ballot works, leaving the door open for electoral fraud. Lastly, some politicians think the duration of the campaign should have been longer than just a few months. As a consequence dysfunction is widespread, the worst of it being that many of those eligible to vote are not on the electoral roll.
Here is what Nadia Raonimanalina thinks [mg]:
Izao no soso-kevitro aminareo rehetra milaza fa tsy nahazo karatra sy tsy anaty lisitra. Nanao recensement ny Cenit nisy fotoana dia nisy reçu nomena anareo. Tehirizo tsara raha tena tsy afaka mifidy ianareo. Iny avy eo no entina hanaovana réclamation… Tandremo pièce mitambatambatra ilaina ireny ho an'ny Ces…
je suggère à tous ceux qui n’ont pas eu de cartes d’électeurs et qui ne sont pas sur les listes :le CENIT a fait un recensement et on vous a attribué un reçu, GARDEZ bien ce récépissé, et si vous n’êtes pas autorisé à voter, ce récépissé vous permettra de déposer une réclamation. Attention, il faudra un ensemble de pièces pour le CES !!!!
To everyone who does not have a polling card and is not on the rolls, I suggest: The CENIT carried out a census and assigned you a receipt. KEEP HOLD of this receipt and if you are not permitted to vote, this receipt will allow you to lodge a complaint. Beware, you will need a set of papers for the CES!!!!
DOT.mg sarcastically states :
Raha izaho no lany Dada tsy avelako mody, Neny sy Boaikely roahiko tsy mahazo miditra eto tsony, tsinjoviko ny vahoaka fa ny bois de rose hanamboarako cure dents amin'izay mba samy manana bois de rose ny Gasy. Vazivazy fa raha izay aza no drafi-panarenam-pirenena hatolotro tsy ho mena mitahy amin'ny an'ireo 33 ireo.
If I am elected, I will not let Dada (former president Ravalomanana) back into the country, I will expel Neny (wife of president Ravalomananna and Boy Kely (current president Rajoelina), so that they couldn't come back here, but I will use rose wood for toothpicks, meaning every Malagasy would have their ‘rose wood'! I'm just kidding, but if that's my recovery programme, it wont be any worse that those of the 33 candidates
It is not only at home but also abroad that questions are being asked, but this time about Andry Rajoelina, for example French Radio, Radio France International (RFI) says :
A quelques jours du scrutin présidentiel dont le premier tour est fixé au vendredi 25 octobre, le chef de la transition malgache cultive toujours le mystère sur son propre avenir. Va-t-il faire ses adieux à la politique ? Renaître de ses cendres aux côtés du prochain président ? Prendre les chemins de l’exil ou se mettre en réserve de la République et préparer son éventuel retour aux affaires dans cinq ans ?
Only a few days away from the presidential elections, whose first round is set for Friday 25th October, the head of Malagasy transition was still cultivating an air of mystery surrounding his own future. Will he say his political goodbyes? Rise from the ashes to the side of the next president? Go into exile or put himself in reserve for the Republic and prepare his eventual return to business in five years?
In conclusion, what all the Malagasy people hope for is total transparency so that what is expressed is the choice of the people. Electoral observers will be on the ground as well as international observers and it is hoped that each one will fulfil their responsibilities.
Some web commentators are already particularly worked up about pre-election dysfunction.
Jean Luce Randriamihotra, amongst others, published an open letter to Atallah Beatrice, head of the Independent National Election Commission for Transition (CENIT):
The more we hear you on the TV the more deeply sad we feel. We do not know whether it is you who is to be most pitied, or the Malagasy people who listen to you. You say that is it not really anyone's fault if there are 1 400 000 duplicate voting card, because there is as yet no better programme: either you are cheating on someone's behalf, or you do not understand technology!!! The programme was created by IT experts, so if there are faults or errors, the individuals in charge are the guilty ones! You who have primary responsibility are also all guilty (the cheaters and the beneficiaries of cheating are equally guilty!).
To us, it's all very simple, the guilty must be punished because the life of the Nation is not a child's toy and we believe that Mr Hery Rakotomanana and the technicians must not be allowed to evade responsibility. You are not going to get yourselves of the hook because they could make errors, whether by act or incompetence. You are not going to get away with it because they could make so called errors, whether by act or incompetence. Doubt is not allowed and wont be tolerated.
Les mesures de masse pour fraude systématique lors des élections ont commencé: 1) on hacke les sites d'observations citoyens malgaches 2) on envoie des observateurs de pays “amis” ( ex: Maurice) contrôlés les PV 3) Pour soi disant formés les électeurs dans le fokontany, on les fait remplir des bulletins sans la mention spécimen dessus. Du coup, ces bulletins pourront être utilisés pour bourrer les urnes plus tard. Sil vous plait, prenez toutes actions suspectes en photo, c'est le seul moyen de se battre. Bon courage à tous.
Mass measures for systemic electoral fraud have begun: 1) the Malagasy citizens monitoring sites are being hacked 2) observers from ‘friendly’ countries (e.g. Mauritius) are being sent to control the PV 3) Under the guise of training voters in the fokontanys, voters are made to fill in ballot papers which are not clearly labelled as specimen. Thus, the ballot papers could later be used to stuff the ballot boxes. Please, photograph any suspicious activity, it is the only way of combatting it. Good luck to everyone.
It is the home stretch for many candidates and during this period every candidate has attempted to attract voters by any means. Here are a few examples:
Jentilisa expresses his anxiety in this Facebook post:
La période de campagne se termine aujourd'hui mais nous allons vers une période encore plus trouble.
The period of campaigning end today but we are heading towards a more troubling period #mg261 #mdg2013 Best to prepare for the worst to try and exorcise it.
All photos in these posts were either taken by the author or used with permission from the facebook profile of the photographers.