Two ex-leaders look set for second round in Madagascar presidential poll

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ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Former presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana won most votes in Madagascar’s presidential election, according to provisional results issued on Saturday that pointed to a likely second round.

Rajoelina led with 39.19 percent of the vote followed by Ravalomanana with 35.29 percent. The incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, seeking a second term in office, was a distant third with about 9 percent.

A total of 36 candidates ran for president. Turnout was 54.23 percent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said.

The final results will be announced in nine days by the constitutional court and if no candidate has a majority the top two will compete in a second round on Dec. 19.

Voters are eager for a leader who will tackle the impoverished Indian Ocean island’s many problems including unemployment and corruption.

Madagascar is hoping for the second peaceful election since upheaval in 2009 when Ravalomanana was forced out of office by protests led by Rajoelina in what international organisations such as the African Union said was a coup.

Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Robin Pomeroy