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Madagascar Votes

Å woman's finger is marked with ink after she cast her ballot in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Oct. 25, 2013.

International observers have described the process thus far as free and fair thus far.

The polls have closed and the ballots are being counted in Madagascar, following the first presidential election since a military-backed coup in 2009. International observers have described the process thus far as free and fair, an important first step in returning the Indian Ocean nation to democratic rule.

Madagascar Votes
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Full results could take a week, observers say, and if none of the 33 candidates receives more than 50 percent of the vote a runoff will be held December 20. Two of the most popular contenders have recorded early leads, according to returns from more than half of the nation’s 20,000 voting stations.

Madagascar was thrown into turmoil four years ago when former disc jockey Andry Rajoelina ousted the democratically elected President Marc Ravalomanana in a military coup.

Rajoelina established a self-proclaimed transitional government and promised to hold free elections, but has clung to power since. An important regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community, suspended Madagascar after the coup, and international donors have suspended aid pending a return to democracy.

The United States congratulates the Malagasy people for their peaceful participation in this historic election. We urge authorities there to ensure that the tallying of election results proceeds in an orderly fashion and yields a credible result. The citizens of Madagascar have suffered too long from the coup’s devastating social and economic effects. They deserve elected leaders who reflect the will of the people.