Madagascar holds local government polls

The Indian Ocean island state of Madagascar went to the polls Friday for the local government officials to take charge for the next four years.
Over 8,484,714 people were expected to cast their ballots at some 20,072 polling stations, according to the national elections agency.Some 7,322 candidates are competing for the 1,695 seats.
The candidates include the former first lady, Mrs Lalao Ravalomanana, who is gunning for the Antananarivo mayoral seat.
Former Prime Minister Albert Camille Vital (for Toliara) and former presidential contender, Dr Jean-Louis Robinson, are also in the race.
Dr Robinson, a candidate for the rural Amparafaravo mayoral seat, lost the 2013 presidential runoff to Mr Hery Rajaonarimampianina.
The ruling party HVM has the highest number of candidates in the contest, followed by those of former President Marc Ravalomanana’s party.
Voter education
The urban areas were characterised by low voter turnout compared to the rural areas on Friday morning.
Poll officials said no major incidences had been reported despite the media reports of shoddy preparations for the vote.
Security was tight in Antananarivo in particular.
The UNDP, through its Electoral Special Programme (PACEM), devoted several weeks to voter education.
The US embassy in Antananarivo was also heavily involved in the voter education ahead of the polls.
The last time the southern African nation organised mayoral elections was on December 12, 2007.The former grand DJ, Mr Andry Rajoelina, won in Antananarivo from where he would rise to the presidency following the 2009 coup.