Assembly poll cements Madagascar president's power

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ANTANANARIVO, Sep 28 (Reuters) Madagascar's governing party has won 106 seats in the 127-seat national assembly, cementing President Marc Ravalomanana's control of the island nation's political system, official figures today showed.

The High Constitutional Court has three weeks to confirm the victory of his Tiako i Madagasikara (TIM) party in polls that were notable mostly for a low turnout of only some 20 per cent.

''In a close election, that would have posed problems of legitimacy,'' Anil Gayan, head of the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) observer mission, told journalists.

The national assembly is Madagascar's lower house of parliament.

All new laws must be approved by both houses, but in practice both rarely reject government legislation.

Officials did not publish the national turnout, but the rate in the capital Antananarivo was 19.42 per cent in the capital.

The election was the third time since December that Madagascar's roughly 7.5 million voters have gone to the polls.

Ravalomanana won December's presidential election and an April constitutional referendum with ease.

When he dissolved the assembly ahead of schedule in July, TIM controlled some two thirds of seats. The president said its composition did not reflect the April referendum results when three-quarters of participants voted to boost his powers.

Analysts praise the self-made dairy tycoon for his energy and proven business success, but have questioned his authoritarian tendencies.

With an incipient mining boom under way, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island and home to some 19.6 million people.

REUTERS SS AS1438

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