ANTANANARIVO — Former Finance Minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina won Madagascar's run-off presidential election, the electoral commission (CENIT) said on Friday, but his main rival claims the vote was rigged.
CENIT leader Beatrice Atallah said Rajaonarimampianina, the candidate backed by President Andry Rajoelina who ousted his predecessor in a coup in 2009, won 53.5 percent of the December 20 vote.
He beat Jean Louis Robinson, who ended up with 46.5 percent but has demanded a recount. Robinson's camp has filed almost 300 complaints to the electoral court, which now has to rule on the result.
The poll, the first since former disc jockey Rajoelina grabbed power, is meant to end a crisis that has driven out investors, cut aid flows and sharply slowed the economy.
The name "Rajaonarimampianina" is a reminder that many Madagascarenes' ancestors arrived in prehistoric times from the land of multi-syllabic names on the other side of the Indian Ocean, 4,000 miles away. The southeast Asians or Borneoans got to Madagascar before the Africans. Jared Diamond considers that an even more remarkable feat of seamanship than the Polynesian settlement of the Pacific.
Oddly enough, Rajaonarimampianina himself looks like an East African black guy and, judging from campaign rally photos has overwhelmingly black supporters, while his opponent Jean Louis Robinson, or perhaps Robinson Jean Louis, is an Indochinese-looking fellow.
Is Robinson named after Robinson Crusoe? Many people were shipwrecked on Madagascar. It was said to be the site of the Pirate Utopia of Libertatia in the 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, an influential work that introduced such perennials of pirate lore as peg-legs, buried treasure, and the Jolly Roger flag. It was penned by "Captain Charles Johnson," which has often been assumed to have been a pseudonym for history's most energetic individual, Daniel Defoe (who is said to have written under 198 pseudonyms), although it may well have been somebody else cashing in on the mania for Robinson Crusoe stories.