Polls opened on Thursday in Madagascar’s presidential election, which is being boycotted by most opposition candidates over concerns about the votes’ integrity.
The Indian Ocean island nation is the leading global producer of vanilla but one of the world’s poorest countries. It has been shaken by successive political crises since independence from France in 1960.
President Andry Rajoelina has brushed off criticism and expressed confidence that he will secure re-election in the first round of voting.
Following a nighttime curfew and weeks of protests, voting got calmly under way on Thursday morning, according to journalists, with polls set to close at 5:00 p.m. (1400 GMT).
People complained they do not want more demonstrations and are fed up with more problems in the country. They are ready to choose for themselves by voting for the one to lead them as president.
Rajoelina, 49, is one of 13 candidates on the ballot, but 10 of the others have called on voters to shun the elections, complaining of an “institutional coup” in favor of the incumbent.
Since early October, the opposition grouping, which includes two former presidents, has led near-daily, largely unauthorized protest marches in the capital. They have been regularly dispersed by police firing tear gas.
On Wednesday, authorities imposed a nighttime curfew in the capital, Antananarivo, following what the police prefect said were “various acts of sabotage”.
Eleven million people are registered to vote in the country of about 30 million.