The Bishops of Madagascar call for “wisdom, maturity and a sense of duty” as voters go to the polls in a presidential run-off in the African island nation.
Voters began casting their ballots early on Wednesday morning in this run off vote which will decide the next president of Madagascar. The two men looking to lead the country are both formers presidents. Marc Ravalomanana was elected in 2002, but was ousted in 2009 after protests led by Andry Rajoelina, who assumed the role of president.
As the country goes to the ballot box, the Bishops Conference of Madagascar in a statement have called for wisdom, maturity and a sense of duty. “To go to the polls is a duty for every citizen”, the Bishops say, adding, “for this reason, we urge all those who can to actively participate in the second round of the election, and to make a free choice, according to conscience”.
The Bishops also call on the representatives of all institutions to “do everything possible to promote truth and transparency in the management of election results” in the interests of credibility and peace.
To the challengers themselves, the statement asks both men to implement the concept of “Fihavanana”, a Malagasy word that encompasses the idea of closeness, friendship and mutual respect, stressing the importance of maintaining calm during the vote and accepting with humility the outcome of the election.
The Madagascar Bishops underline the importance of having a new president who is a reconciler and reunifier and one who will be a leader of to all the people in the country.
Officials say that nearly 20,000 personnel from the defence and security forces have been deployed throughout the country, to ensure the security of the election. Results of the vote should be known before the end of the year.