Madagascar president's coalition wins parliamentary majority

Antananarivo (AFP) –


Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina's coalition has won an absolute majority in the new parliament, according to provisional results published Saturday by the country's electoral commission (CENI), although the opposition is crying foul.

Projections based on the number of votes won by the various parties in the May 28 election give the president's is coalition 84 places in the national assembly's 151-seat chamber.

Deputies supporting his defeated rival for the presidency, Marc Ravalomanana -- who lost in the second-round presidential run-off last December -- won only 16 seats, according to the provisional results.

The remaining 51 seats went to deputies backing candidates who describe themselves as independents.

The results published by CENI still have to be validated by the constitutional court. It will announce its decision in a few weeks, once it has examined any legal objections.

Turnout was low, at 31 percent, for the May 28 legislative election.

The day after voting, Ravalomanana's opposition TIM ("I Love Madagascar") party said it was preparing legal action over the election.

"We have seen a lot of anomalies in all of the provinces and we are preparing our appeals," said Olga Ramalason, a TIM senator.

But an election observer mission from the Southern African Development Community has praised the peaceful conditions maintained for the election. The island has a long history of coups and unrest.

The parliamentary election was seen as the latest round of a bitter feud between Rajoelina and his longstanding rival Ravalomanana and his TIM ("I Love Madagascar") party.

The two men have dominated the country's politics since the early 2000s, sometimes cooperating but mostly fighting for advantage and high office.

The former French colony is well known for its vanilla and precious redwood, yet is one of the world's poorest nations, according to World Bank data, with 76 percent of people living in extreme poverty.