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Madagascar heading toward runoff poll in presidential race

FILE -- In this Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 file photo ballots are held at a centre in Antananarivo, Madagascar a day after Madagascans cast their votes in presidential elections. A runoff is likely between two former presidents, Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, in a tight race, according to results announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 from 70 percent of polling stations. (AP Photo/Kabir Dhanji, File)

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — A runoff presidential election in December is likely in Madagascar where two former presidents are in a tight race, according to results announced Wednesday from 70 percent of polling stations.

Seven days after voting, former transitional president Andry Rajoelina is leading with 39 percent of the votes counted, followed closely by former president Marc Ravalomanana with 36 percent. The most recent president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, is far behind with 7 percent, according to results from 17,097 of the 24,852 polling stations, according to the national electoral commission. A total of 36 candidates contested the Nov. 7 election.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round will take place on December 19th.

All the leading candidates have expressed doubts about the reliability commission’s results. Madagascar has been shaken many times by post-election crises.

“The computer processing of results by the CENI (electoral commission) is not transparent,” said Rajoelina’s representative in a statement, which said they would no longer observe the commission’s counting.

Ravalomanana also voiced suspicions of the count. “There are many CENI publications that do not correspond to the minutes we have. We request the publication and access to electronic files of polling station results by polling station, said Hanitra Razafimanantsoa, ??a lawyer for Ravalomanana.

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