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Madagascar votes for new leader, hopes to end crisis

ANTANANARIVO -- Madagascans voted Friday in a presidential run-off aimed at pulling the Indian Ocean island out of the political and economic doldrums and restoring democracy.

Islanders queued to cast ballots from 06:00 a.m. (0300 GMT) in the hope of ending a crisis sparked by a 2009 coup which paralyzed much of the government and caused foreign donors to cancel aid.

Madagascar's main political rivals — interim leader Andry Rajoelina and the man he ousted, Marc Ravalomanana — were barred from running amid international pressure over fears of a return to violence.

Initial results are expected this weekend.

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