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Madagascar Starts Counting Ballots In Presidential Race

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Madagascar Starts Counting Ballots In Presidential Race

Vote counting started Wednesday evening in Madagascar where citizens cast their ballots with hopes that a new leader will take this Indian Ocean island nation out of chronic poverty and corruption.

Polls closed at 17:00 local time after a day of generally calm and uneventful voting.

The 36 presidential candidates have all promised to improve the country’s economy, create new jobs and end graft, but the three leaders in the race are familiar faces who offer little chance of a dramatic change, say political analysts.

“I was looking forward to this election because the misery in Madagascar is everywhere! Our country is rich! Why are the Malagasy people, for the most part, poor?” said Judith Rasolofo, 52, a housewife with five children. “I want to see something new in Madagascar!”

Bruno Bezara said he came to vote first thing in the morning.

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“I was in a hurry to come and vote because it’s very important,” said Bezara, 65. “I want change because there are many things that do not work in our country.”

The winner must take more than 50% of the votes cast and with such a large number of candidates, it is likely the race will go to a second round, scheduled for December 19.

The three former presidents who are the leading candidates have all voted. Former President Marc Ravalomanana, who ruled between 2002 and 2009, voted in his Faravohitra neighborhood, in the center of the capital, Antananarivo.

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Calm and orderly atmosphere

Andry Rajoelina, who was president during the transitional period of 2009 to 2013, voted in the capital’s Ambatobe district.

And former president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who led the country from 2013 to 2018, also voted in the Antananarivo. According to Madagascar’s laws, Rajaonarimampianina resigned in order to campaign, leaving the country to be run by the president of the senate.

Voting took place normally in the centre of Toamasina, a large port city on the east coast of the island.

With an estimated 76% of its 25 million people in extreme poverty, Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, according to the World Bank. There are 9.9 million registered voters who will go to the polling stations. Preliminary results are expected by November 14 and officials have until November 28 to declare the final outcome.

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“We hope that the calm and orderly atmosphere will continue throughout the day and especially after the closing of the polls,” said Christian Preda, head of the European Union Election Observation Mission in Antananarivo. “We hope that these elections will be an opportunity to consolidate the democratic achievements of the Malagasy.”

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Ten Killed In Deadly Somalia Prison Break Attempt

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Ten Killed In Deadly Somalia Prison Break Attempt

Somalia prison officials say 10 persons have been killed following a failed prison break that led to a shoot-out inside the capital -Mogadishu’s main prison.

State radio reported, another six were injured when Somali security forces beat back an uprising in the prison on Monday.

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A senior police officer said mutinous prisoners snatched guns from guards who were on duty on Monday evening, and killed three of them.

There are reports that one of the prisoners managed to get a pistol off a prison warden, then a group of inmates broke into the armoury. The guards and other security forces regrouped and killed the inmates.

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A specially trained police unit was deployed to deal with the violence at the prison which holds some of the most notorious al-Shabab prisoners on either life or death sentences.

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At Least 10 Dead In Ethiopia Protests Over Autonomy

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At Least 10 Dead In Ethiopia Protests Over Autonomy

Ethiopia’s health officials say at least 10 persons have died during clashes between protesters and security forces in the country’s southern region on Monday.

The protests were sparked by Sunday’s arrest of local officials and activists seeking a new autonomous region for their Wolaita ethnic group.

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Spokesman for the opposition party Wolaita national movement party- Matheos Balcha says one of their party members was arrested.

Security forces shot dead protesters in Boditi on Monday, a town 295 km southwest of the capital Addis Ababa. A 14-year-old boy was reported to be among the dead. Opposition spokesperson says 34 persons were injured.

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Prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018, and introduced democratic reforms, has struggled to appeal to ethnic nationalism.

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France Helps Hunt For Killers Of Aid Workers In Niger

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France Helps Hunt For Killers Of Aid Workers In Niger

Soldiers from France and Niger are collaborating to find killers of six aid workers, their local guide and driver at a giraffe reserve.

The troops began operations on Monday in the reserve and surrounding areas for signs of the gunmen who killed the French international aid workers along with their local guide and driver.

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Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group on Sunday while driving through the reserve, a popular destination for expatriates, 65 km from Niger’s capital Niamey, in an area considered safe by the government.

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A French military source said, “military operations are ongoing including the use of air support to find the gunmen.

France and other countries have warned people against travelling to parts of Niger where militants, including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Islamic State, operate in rural areas.

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