ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's presidential candidates both claimed victory Saturday in run-off polls, each accusing the other of rigging the run-off as results started to trickle in.
Former health minister Robinson Jean Louis, candidate of ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, told AFP he expected to win 56 percent, while his opponent Hery Rajaonarimampianina claimed to have taken between 60 and 65 percent.
"There has been massive fraud," Jean Louis told AFP, adding that "an entire airplane" filled with ballots pre-marked in favour of his rival had been discovered.
His campaign held an early victory party Friday night.
Meanwhile, the camp of Rajaonarimampianina, a former finance minister under strongman Andry Rajoelina, denied any wrongdoing.
"From our side we haven't rigged the vote, but actually they did. We have proof," his spokeswoman Rinah Rakotomanga said.
The election commission, security forces, and international observers have not confirmed incidents of fraud after hailing generally peaceful polls though with little turnout.
"There are a lot of rumours, but these were elections to exit a crisis and there will always be rumours," the UN representative for Madagascar, Fatma Samoura, said.
Electoral agents count ballots at a polling station in Antananarivo on December 20, 2013. PHOTO/AFP
Observer missions will release their main conclusions on Sunday.
Madagascans voted Friday in parliamentary and run-off presidential polls to return the island to democracy after Rajoelina seized power in an army-backed coup from Ravalomanana in 2009.
The two foes were barred from running for the presidency as the international community fears a return to violence but proxy candidates ran instead.
The run-off coincided with a vote for 151 parliamentarians after an inconclusive first round on October 25.
Initial results Saturday gave Jean Louis the lead with 50.21 percent of votes but only 204 polling stations out of 20,001 reporting.
The election commission should announce final results by January 7, to be confirmed by the election court by February 18.