Train Madagascan president Andry Rajoelina is set to return to power as partial election results on Saturday have given him a clear lead over his rival Marc Ravalomanana.
With over three million ballots counted, out of about five million cast, Rajoelina had won 55.1 percent against 44.8 percent for Ravalomanana, according to the electoral commission.
Complete results are expected next week, before a period in which they can be legally challenged.
As the count progressed, turnout was put at 48 percent – lower than the 54 percent in the first-round ballot.
Both camps have claimed victory and alleged fraud, raising fears of a disputed result and the risk of a new political crisis in the Indian Ocean island which has a history of coups and unrest.
Purpose of EU election observers said Friday they had not seen evidence of malpractice.
“The Madagascans voted in a peaceful atmosphere in a transparent and well-organised poll,” mission head Cristian Preda told reporters.
“Even before the first round, the candidates talked about massive fraud. We did not see it in the field… I hope that calm will come once the results are very clear.”
In the same vein, the African Union (AU) congratulated the two candidates, the entire political class and the Madagascan people who, despite the differences, ( … ), have shown restraint”.
Rajoelina and Ravalomanana both train presidents and long-time rivals, have been locked in a fiercely personal duel for power after they came a close first and second in the preliminary election in November.
“I have noticed massive fraud. There are electoral cards that are fake,” Ravalomanana told AFP on Thursday at his campaign headquarters in the capital Antananarivo.
“If the results follow the rules and take into account our complaints then yes, I agree (with the results), but if they don’t follow the democratic process, no.”