Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ANTANANARIVO1364
2006-12-06 15:17:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Antananarivo
Cable title:  

HALF OF RESULTS IN, RAVALOMANANA HAS 61 PERCENT

Tags:  PGOV PREL KDEM EAID PHUM PINR MA 
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VZCZCXRO7951
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHAN #1364/01 3401517
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061517Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3971
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0754
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANTANANARIVO 001364 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E, AF/FO, INR/AA, AND DRL
PARIS FOR D'ELIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM EAID PHUM PINR MA
SUBJECT: HALF OF RESULTS IN, RAVALOMANANA HAS 61 PERCENT


ANTANANARI 00001364 001.2 OF 002


REFTEL: ANTANANARIVO 1351 AND PREVIOUS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANTANANARIVO 001364

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E, AF/FO, INR/AA, AND DRL
PARIS FOR D'ELIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM EAID PHUM PINR MA
SUBJECT: HALF OF RESULTS IN, RAVALOMANANA HAS 61 PERCENT


ANTANANARI 00001364 001.2 OF 002


REFTEL: ANTANANARIVO 1351 AND PREVIOUS


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: President Ravalomanana has a comfortable lead of
61 percent with just over half of the polling stations reporting,
but results to date are skewed toward his highland plateau base.
While prospects for a first round victory appear strong, it will be
several days before we can say so with certainty and it may yet be
weeks before the High Constitutional Court (HCC) releases the
official results. Observers generally characterize the election as
free and fair so far, while highlighting significant shortcomings
and calling for reforms. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) With 9,149 of 17,581 polling stations reporting,
unofficial results compiled by the Ministry of Interior have
President Ravalomanana in the lead with 1.87 million votes (61.22
percent); Roland Ratsiraka in a distant second with 283,000 votes
(9.28 percent). Jean Lahiniriko and Herizo Razafimhaleo are close
to a tie for third with about 230,000 (7.5 percent) votes each.
While half the (unofficial) results are in, Post notes
Ravalomanana's popular base is in the high plateau in and near
Antananarivo; polling stations with high Ravalomanana numbers are
geographically closer and more likely to report early results. The
vast majority of polling stations not yet reporting are in distant
coastal areas where Ratsiraka and Lahiniriko reportedly did well.
Thus the President's 61 percent can be expected to come down as more
voting stations report; but how much?


3. (SBU) Opposition candidates, most of whom vocally challenged the
process before the election, have been relatively silent in the 72
hours since the polls closed. Post expects the top candidates to be
more vocal once 70-80 percent of the votes are in -- and there is a
better sense whether or not Ravalomanana appears to have received
well above the 50 percent plus one necessary to avoid a run-off.

Transparent Tabulation Process
--------------


4. (SBU) Embassy officers daily visit the Ministry of Interior

elections task force that is collating unofficial results; it is
open to journalists, candidates, and observers. On December 6 the
Minister himself was present and clearly very proud of the conduct
of the election. With the help of South African helicopters to
deliver results from remote areas, he predicted that final
unofficial results would be complete by week's end. He speculated
that the HCC might take another week to make the final tallies
official. If his optimistic appraisal proves true, it will be by
far the fastest Madagascar has ever announced its election results.
The Ambassador and Embassy staff also regularly visit the HCC's
official ballot tabulation operation, which is under heavy security,
but open to accredited observers and the press. The 116 district
offices compiling results from 17,500 polling stations are scattered
around the country. Visiting two in downtown Antananarivo, the
scene is a primitive contrast to the glossy operation at the
Interior Ministry, with adding machines in place of computers, but
the sense of duty and dedication of the workers present is palpable.
While Post is reasonably comfortable with this process, it remains
very much an open question if candidates will accept the results it
produces in the coming weeks.

Observers Approve Process So Far
--------------


5. (SBU) So far, international and domestic observation teams share
Post's view that voting on December 3 was free, fair and
transparent. To the extent that irregularities were noted in
electoral lists, voter card distribution, and other imperfections in
the process, observers shared the view that these failings did not
seem to disadvantage particular candidates. While commending
Madagascar for calm and professionalism, most observer groups were
unanimous in calling for electoral reforms, if possible before the
2007 legislative elections (reftels).

Specific Reactions
--------------


6. (SBU) While assessing the overall conduct of the election in
positive terms, in public and private meetings, several
international observer teams have hit on specific critical themes:

-- Europeans caveat their praise with emphasis on "room for
improvement," noting among other issues the disparity between
candidates' access to financial and media resources;


ANTANANARI 00001364 002.2 OF 002


-- The African Union noted many polling stations had too many
voters (as high as 2,000),and called for a single ballot;

-- La Francophonie made several recommendations, related to
increasing the number of polling stations, better voter verification
and distribution of voter cards, and campaign finance reform;

-- Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary
Forum and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA)
representatives said a genuinely independent electoral commission
and a single ballot must be implemented after this election; as
should better regulation of private media. SADC Parliamentary
Delegation Chairman Duke Lefhoko said future elections should not be
administered by the government;

-- SADC Secretariat members pointed out that the Malagasy electoral
process does not comply with SADC standards for an independent
commission, voter lists, and polling station access during the
count.

COMMENT
--------------


7. (SBU) It is tempting, but would still be premature, to conclude
that Marc Ravalomanana is the first round winner, although the
results are certainly tending in that direction. As for the
critiques offered by our international observer colleagues, we tend
to agree with most, while assigning highest priority to the need for
an independent electoral commission, a single ballot, and a grace
period longer than three days to complete the list and voter
documentation. The consensus at present seems to be: wait for the
final result, give Madagascar a solid passing grade, and then
strongly urge political reforms before the 2007 legislative
elections. Post also expects negative reactions from opposition
candidates as the unofficial results begin to look like a first
round victory for the President.

MCGEE