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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 16:03 GMT
Madagascar recount ordered
Supporters of Marc Ravalomanana (Pic courtesy DMD/Midi)
Mr Ravalomanana's supporters say he won outright
A recount of Madagascar's first round of presidential elections held in December has been ordered by the island's High Constitutional Court.

The court said this should be done by the national electoral commission, which has yet to issue final voting figures.

There have been growing calls for a recount since the opposition candidate, Marc Ravalomanana, claimed he had won an outright victory over the incumbent, Didier Ratsiraka.

Provisional figures gave Mr Ravalomanana 46% of the vote against Mr Ratsiraka's 40%, a lead which was not enough to avoid a second-round run-off.

Our correspondent says it is unclear how long this could take.

But he says it is being seen as an important step towards solving the crisis which has engulfed the country.

Many believe the unprecedented move is an accumulation of the effects of popular protest, the intervention of the church and possibly international opinion which has forced the HCC's hand.


Crowds as large as 100,000 people gathered each day last week in the capital, Antananarivo, in support of Mr Ravalomanana, who is the city's mayor.

Marc Ravalomanana (Pic courtesy DMD/Midi)
Mr Ravalomanana believes the count was being fiddled
But he temporarily halted the protests last Friday, saying they would resume if the result was not re-examined.

Mr Ravalomanana's supporters believed the results were being manipulated with various provisional results being bandied about.

They wanted the court to release the votes from each polling station - an appeal which had been echoed by election observers.

Mr Ravalomanana also called on the church to mediate.

In 1991, street protests forced Mr Ratsiraka to introduce multi-party elections and he lost the first contest in 1993, before being re-elected three years later.

the BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"The dispute over the election has effectively paralysed government on Madagascar"
See also:

11 Jan 02 | Africa
Madagascar protests halted
11 Jan 02 | Africa
Two sides to Madagascar row
08 Jan 02 | Africa
More Madagascar protests
17 Dec 01 | Business
Madagascar raises economic hopes
17 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Madagascar
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