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Madagascar goes to the polls in presidential elections on Wednesday

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Madagascar goes to the polls in presidential elections on Wednesday

madagascar election 2018
madagascar election 2018
Photo: AFP/Rijasolo

Madagascar holds presidential elections today. 36 candidates, which include former PMs and presidents, are on the ballot.

The two frontrunners challenging incumbent President Rajaonarimampianina are his two immediate predecessors – Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, who took power in a 2009 coup. The involvement of a high number of wealthy individuals has raised concerns about the country’s economic trajectory, remaining one of Africa’s poorest countries despite vast mineral resources.

In the post-coup economic environment, new trade relationships with Russia and China that have swapped mineral rights for financial assistance have raised concerns over foreign interference. Partnerships with Chinese companies have seen major new mining projects created and finances provided for ventures linked to the Belt and Road Initiative, but have had little impact in a country where 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

The re-election of either Rajaonarimampianina or Rajoelina looks likely to continue a status quo that will mire the country in continued underdevelopment and inequality. Without significant reforms to reduce corruption or increase control over natural resources, Madagascar will remain highly dependent on foreign assistance that is targeted at removing direct control of its natural resources.

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