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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 12:23 GMT
Madagascar poll 'unfair'
Voters queue outside a polling station in Antananarivo
Some voters complained they were not registered

The opposition in Madagascar is alleging that voting in Sunday's parliamentary elections was manipulated.

Early results indicate that parties supporting President Marc Ravalomanana look set to gain a huge majority in the new parliament.

The main opposition party of the former President, Didier Ratsiraka, is citing a number of irregularities.

Western donors, including the United States and the European Union, put pressure for the poll, originally scheduled for May 2003, to be brought forward before they release $2.4m they have pledged.

'Undemocratic'

Most of the results of the major towns and cities are now in and they all reflect a clear and undeniable trend, that the alliance of parties supporting President Ravalomanana will have a huge majority in parliament.

A media scrum around President Marc Ravalomanana
Mr Ravalomanana is the centre of attention in this election

That alliance known as National Solidarity is predicting that it will have more than 100 out of the 160 seats in parliament.

Collating information from the polling stations in some of the remoter areas of the country is taking a lot longer.

Now the opposition party, The Vanguard for Madagascan Renewal (Arema), is saying that the election was undemocratic.

It says that in many polling stations ballot papers contained the names of candidates from the party who were not actually standing in the election because they had boycotted it.

Popularity test

They say National Solidarity is therefore trying to disguise these elections as democratic when they were not.

They also allege that in one town in the north-east of the country, 400 people voted twice.

This election has been seen as a test of the popularity of the new president following elections a year ago in which no outright winner emerged.

International donors suspended much needed aid for the country pending the outcome of these elections.

Observers from the European Union will announce their first conclusions into the conduct of these elections on Wednesday.

See also:

15 Dec 02 | Africa
12 Dec 02 | Africa
30 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
29 Jul 02 | Business
27 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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