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Madagascar’s delayed election results

It has been a week since Madagascar's nearly eight million registered voters went to the polls to elect a president to replace Marc Ravalomanana who was overthrown in 2009.

Voters were hoping their return to constitutional normality would end the Indian Ocean state's international isolation.

More importantly they were expecting that it would restore financial aid that dried up after the coup led by former disc jockey Andry Rajoelina.

No less than 40% of Madagascar's budget comprised foreign aid and its disappearance increased poverty among the 22 million people.

The coup also truncated the tourists that are a bedrock earner for the island of nickel and vanilla.

A World Bank report this year says 92% of Malagasy people live on less than $2 a day.

Half the children under five-years old are severely malnourished.

At least 1,5 million children are not in school. The island does not have compulsory primary education.

A week after the extraordinary event that went off with far fewer problems than were expected after a series of delays and false starts, the people have stopped congratulating themselves and started expressing misgivings about the tardy announcement of results.

It will be next week before the Independent Electoral Commission releases figures.

This raises fears of corruption and manipulation.

International observers say they will get worried if results take a month or more.

What seems inevitable is that there will be a second round because none of the 33 candidates will garner the required 50% plus votes needed for an outright victory.

With 44% of the votes counted, Jean-Louis Robinson - the candidate supported by Ravalomanana, who is exiled in South Africa - is emerging with a comfortable poll lead of 27% of the votes.

Robinson was a strong candidate because of Ravalomanana's continued popularity. However he's doing better than expected, winning a clear 60% on the highlands.

Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the candidate favoured by Rajoelina, was expected to predominate. He had the biggest budget in an electoral campaign where largesse eclipsed issues.

Robinson is set to advance to the second round, on 20 December, with a comfortable lead.

Rajaonarimampianina is left with the potion of making alliances to block Robinson.

His fellow TGV party candidate Edgard Razafindravahy, who's mayor of the capital Antananarivo, is a given.

The allegiances of other vote pullers like former deputy president Hajo Andrianainarivelo, Toamasino mayor Roland Ratsiraka and former prime minister Camille Vital are less certain.

They've all had fallings out with Rajoelina.

Analaysts say they can probably be bought with promises of high office.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is EWN's Africa correspondent.

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