Former strongman-backed candidate ahead in polls for Madagascar's next president

Preliminary results show that the candidate supported by Madagascar's former strongman is the front runner for president.

Results posted on the government website Monday show Hery Rajaonarimampianina has garnered 53 percent of the vote so far, compared to rival Robinson Jean Louis' 46 percent.

Rajaonarimampianina is the island's outgoing finance minister and is backed by outgoing leader Andry Rajoelina. Robinson is a former minister of public health and of sports and is supported by former leader Marc Ravalomanana who was ousted by Rajoelina in a 2009 coup.

The website shows that more than 95 percent of the votes from the Dec. 20 second round of voting have been counted.

Many hope the election of a new president will end international sanctions imposed after the 2009 military-backed takeover.