Former Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has beaten his rival and predecessor Marc Ravalomanana in the presidential election beset by allegations of fraud from both sides.
Announcing the full provisional results on Thursday, the African country’s electoral commission said Rajoelina got over 55 percent of the votes against Ravalomanana’s 44.34 percent.
The Indian Ocean island nation’s constitutional court has nine days to declare the final election results, which may be contested by Ravalomanana.
Just over 48 percent of the country’s 10 million registered voters cast their ballots in the December 19 runoff between the candidates, both former heads of state and bitter rivals.
Ravalomanana has denounced what he called “massive fraud” in the runoff and urged his supporters earlier this week to “defend” their votes.
Only Rajoelina attended Thursday’s announcement, with the president of the electoral commission, Hery Rakotomanana, noting Ravalomanana’s absence with regret.
The two former presidents faced off for the first time since political turmoil in 2009 forced Ravalomanana from power.
Both had said they would accept the runoff election’s results, though Ravalomanana specified that the voting should take place “in good conditions”.
Rajoelina, 44, who was president from 2009 to 2014 during a transitional government, had campaigned on his youth while 69-year-old Ravalomanana, who led from 2002 to 2009, pointed to his experience.
Ravalomanana had to quit the presidency in 2009 after a series of military-backed challenges supported by Rajoelina, who was mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, at the time.
Campaigning was largely peaceful in this former French colony, which the World Bank ranks as one of the world’s poorest nations, though rich in ecological diversity.
More than two-thirds of the island’s 25 million people live in extreme poverty, while corruption is said to be widespread.