A election official opens a ballot box as vote counting starts in Antananarivo, Madagascar. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Antananarivo - International observers of key elections in Madagascar on Friday expressed satisfaction that the vote had gone well despite isolated violent incidents.

“There was no electoral violence in general, and the election took place in a calm, peaceful and transparent environment,” the head of the European Union observer mission, Maria Muniz de Urquiza, told AFP.

A local government official was shot dead in a polling station in the south of the Indian Ocean island, while another person was kidnapped in a different town and unknown people set fire to a polling station in the north.

But election authorities said the murder was a revenge attack unrelated to the polls and that voting returned to normal soon after. The killing also occurred in a region notorious for violence related to cattle-rustling.

“Incidents such as the murder had nothing to do with the electoral process, but with banditry, according to the information we have,” the EU's Muniz de Urquiza, told AFP.

“The irregularities or little problems we witnessed such as the late delivery of election materials were resolved fairly quickly,” she said.

“Until now we are generally happy.”

The US-based Carter Centre also commended the conduct of the vote with the head of its observer team Stephane Mondon saying incidents such as the murder of the government official “seem quite isolated”.

“Generally, it went by calmly, and logistically, it was conducted better than we feared,” he added.

The long-delayed elections are expected to restore democracy and bring back desperately needed foreign aid after a 2009 coup plunged the island nation into crisis.

Sapa-AFP