Madagascar counting votes in runoff presidential poll

Madagascar counting votes in runoff presidential poll
An election official holds up a ballot paper during the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (Themba Hadebe)

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — The counting of ballots has started in Madagascar's runoff presidential election, after the polls closed to end the generally peaceful voting Wednesday.

There was a relatively low turnout of voters on this Indian Ocean island nation which is selecting a new president between two former leaders.

Andry Rajoelina, 44, president from 2009 to 2014, received 39 percent of the vote in the first round in November, while Marc Ravalomanana, 69, president from 2002 to 2009, got 35 percent.

They two are now vying against each other for the first time since political turmoil in 2009 forced Ravalomanana from power. Both have said they will accept the runoff's results.

Rajoelina, after casting his ballot in Antananarivo, the capital, said he is confident of the process.

An election official opens a ballot box for the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
An election official opens a ballot box for the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Party agents and public members watch the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Party agents and public members watch the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
An election official holds an allegedly spoiled ballot paper during the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
An election official holds an allegedly spoiled ballot paper during the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Party agents reacts during the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Party agents reacts during the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Party agents and members of the public react to the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Party agents and members of the public react to the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Party agents and public members react the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Party agents and public members react the counting of ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana leaves the polling station after casting his vote for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana leaves the polling station after casting his vote for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana casts his vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana casts his vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Andry Rajoelina, right, casts his ballot paper as an electoral officer looks on during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. Rajoelina, president from 2009 to 2014, received 39 percent of the vote in the first round in November, while Marc Ravalomanana, president from 2002 to 2009, got 35 percent. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Andry Rajoelina, right, casts his ballot paper as an electoral officer looks on during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. Rajoelina, president from 2009 to 2014, received 39 percent of the vote in the first round in November, while Marc Ravalomanana, president from 2002 to 2009, got 35 percent. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina, right, casts his ballot paper as an electoral officer looks on during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina, right, casts his ballot paper as an electoral officer looks on during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A woman casts her ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A woman casts her ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
People queue to cast their vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
People queue to cast their vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A man gestures before he casts his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A man gestures before he casts his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A woman casts her ballot paper as an electoral officer assist during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A woman casts her ballot paper as an electoral officer assist during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
People queue to cast their vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
People queue to cast their vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A man opens a voting curtain to cast his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A man opens a voting curtain to cast his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A woman walks out of voting booth and casts her ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A woman walks out of voting booth and casts her ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A woman casts her ballot paper as an electoral officer assist during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A woman casts her ballot paper as an electoral officer assist during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina walks towards a ballot box to cast his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina walks towards a ballot box to cast his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina casts his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina casts his ballot paper during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina, right, speaks to journalist after casting his vote in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina, right, speaks to journalist after casting his vote in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana sits inside vehicle after casting his vote for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana sits inside vehicle after casting his vote for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana speaks to journalist after casting his vote for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana speaks to journalist after casting his vote for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana cast his vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana cast his vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana casts his vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana casts his vote during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana receives his ballot paper during the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana receives his ballot paper during the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A woman casts her ballot during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A woman casts her ballot during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A man comes out of a voting booth to cast his ballot paper for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A man comes out of a voting booth to cast his ballot paper for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
An electoral officer signs ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
An electoral officer signs ballot papers for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
A old man cast his ballot for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A old man cast his ballot for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)
An old man walks away after casting his ballot paper for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
An old man walks away after casting his ballot paper for the runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Voters have begun casting their ballots across the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar Wednesday to select a new president in a runoff election that pits two former leaders against each other. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (AP)

"I appeal to all the Malagasy people to vote massively to express their choice so that they can choose who will lead this country," he said. "I am a democrat and I will accept the verdict of the ballot box," he said.

When Ravalomanana voted in central Antananarivo he urged the people of Madagascar to vote and to respect the outcome.

"With the participation of all the Malagasy population, I hope that we will change Madagascar and we will move forward, we must have courage and also hope," he said. "We must accept the result if it takes place in good conditions and if it follows the democratic electoral process."

Ten million voters are registered in Madagascar, a former French colony which is ranked by the World Bank as one of the world's poorest nations, although rich in ecological diversity. More than two-thirds of the island's population of 25 million live in extreme poverty, while corruption is reportedly widespread.

Campaigning in the election was largely peaceful. Antananarivo was vibrant in the final days before the vote with the orange T-shirts of Rajoelina and the white and green ones of Ravalomanana worn by hundreds of supporters.

Provisional results are expected within a week.

___

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa