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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 14:19 GMT
Madagascar leader routs rivals
Voters queue outside a polling station in Antananarivo
The elections are a test of Ravalomanana's popularity
The party of Marc Ravalomanana, the president of Madagascar, has won a landslide in parliamentary elections, according to results released by the interior ministry.

His Tim party and its ally, National Solidarity, have won 125 seats out of a total of 160 in parliament.

Marc Ravalomanana
The results should silence Ravalomanana's critics
In July, long-standing leader Didier Ratsiraka fled the country after a six-month conflict over presidential elections last December.

Mr Ratsiraka's Arema party won just three seats but complained that the vote had been rigged.

Other parties in the Tim-led National Alliance won 30 seats.

Official results will not be announced until the middle of January, 2003, by the country's high constitutional court.

Convincing lead

The BBC's Richard Hamilton in the capital, Antananarivo, says the streets have been echoing to the sound of car horns as supporters of Tim celebrate their landslide election victory.

He says the success of Tim has exceeded even its own expectations.

Didier Ratsiraka
Ratsiraka is now in exile in France

Many thought Mr Ravalomanana's popular mandate would come about only through his alliance with several other parties, but now Tim itself has an absolute majority.

By contrast, the fortunes of Arema, the party of former President Didier Ratsiraka, could hardly have been worse.

Arema used to have a majority in parliament. Now it has next to nothing.

But many people say Arema brought its problems on itself, because many of its candidates boycotted the polls.

Crucial test

Our correspondent says the lack of a substantial opposition is a concern, and some commentators here are bemoaning the absence of any effective reins on the powers of the president.

It will certainly be easy for Tim to push through its policies.

These elections were seen as a crucial test of Mr Ravalomanana's popularity, especially by the international community who had made their recognition of him as well as much needed aid donations conditional upon the election results.

Now it seems as if President Ravalomanana has answered any doubts they may have had in the most emphatic way possible.

See also:

17 Dec 02 | Africa
15 Dec 02 | Africa
12 Dec 02 | Africa
30 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
27 Nov 02 | Country profiles
27 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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