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Madagascar goes to the poll today

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Madagascar kicked off its first round of the presidential election on Thursday to select the national leader for the next five years among 13 candidates, including incumbent President Andry Rajoelina.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Madagascar, over 11 million registered voters among the 30 million total population are expected to cast their ballots at 27,375 polling stations across the country from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time (0300 to 1400 GMT).

Ten candidates including two former presidents Marc Ravalomanana and Hery Rajaonarimampianina are calling to postpone the election and for their supporters to abstain from voting.

They argued that Rajoelina should be disqualified from the election because he has obtained French citizenship. However, the country’s highest court ruled Rajoelina eligible last month.

A strict curfew was imposed on Wednesday night in the capital of Antananarivo, in response to acts of “sabotage,” including the burning of a polling station.

Local police announced that they would step up security at polling stations on polling day, to ensure the smooth running of the election.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will proceed to a runoff round on Dec. 20.

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