Antananarivo - Polls closed Friday in Madagascar's crunch elections expected to restore democracy and attract desperately needed foreign aid after a 2009 coup plunged the island nation into crisis.

Voting was generally peaceful, despite isolated incidents including the murder of a local government official in a polling station, which authorities said was unrelated to the polls.

A polling station in the north was also torched as voters sought to end a crisis which has crippled the Indian Ocean island since strongman Andry Rajoelina, 39, ousted Marc Ravalomanana four years ago.

Officials pulled down shutters at polling stations at 5:00 pm (1400 GMT), having opened 11 hours earlier in this deeply impoverished country.

However, some polling stations remained open so as to allow voters who had arrived ahead of the official closing time, but who were still in the queue, to cast their ballot.

It is expected that a peaceful and credible election will see much-needed Western aid resume.

Sapa-AFP