Madagascar Recent History
In the fight against President Ratsiraka, an opposition movement formed in June 1991, which created a political platform in the Comité des Forces Vives (CFV; German Committee of Living Forces) and formed a counter-government in June 1991 under the leadership of Albert Zafy (* 1931). With demonstrations and calls for a general strike, she sought to abolish the socialist state and societal system in favor of a pluralistic democracy (with a market economy system). After some bloody unrest, the government and the CFV agreed on a new constitution, which was adopted by the population on August 19, 1992. In the presidential election, incumbent Ratsiraka was defeated in the runoff election on February 10, 1993. On March 9, 1993 Zafy was appointed the new president, but with his authoritarian leadership style he was unable to lead the country out of the crisis. After Zafy was removed from office on July 26, 1996 for exceeding his competencies, he resigned on October 10, 1996. After new elections on November 3, 1996, Ratsiraka was again President of the country in January 1997. In the presidential elections on December 16, 2001, the opposition politician M. Ravalomanana won well over incumbent Ratsiraka, but according to official information, he did not achieve an absolute majority in order to avoid a runoff. As a result, tens of thousands of Ravalomanana supporters protested in Antananarivobecause they suspected election fraud. The power struggle intensified when Ravalomanana was proclaimed president on February 22, 2002. Martial law was imposed on Antananarivo as a reaction to the intensified and sometimes violent clashes between supporters of the government and the opposition. At the end of April 2002, after a review of the votes cast, the Constitutional Court declared Ravalomanana the rightful election winner because he had achieved an absolute majority. On May 6, 2002, Ravalomanana was sworn in as the new President. Ratsiraka who, inter alia. was supported by the provincial governors, but did not recognize the result of the recount and called for the reinstatement of his government and a runoff election. After talks between Ravalomananaand Ratsiraka to resolve the crisis failed in June 2002, Ratsiraka went into exile in France in July 2002. The domestic political situation then gradually stabilized, especially after the parliamentary elections of December 15, 2002, the TIM of President Ravalomanana won with a convincing majority. The hurricanes «Elita» and «Gafilo» caused catastrophic damage in February and March 2004 as the worst storms in 20 years in the northern provinces: around 200 people died, over 330,000 were made homeless, 10% of the arable land was destroyed, roads and Bridges were destroyed, as were around 4,600 schools and health centers. The country had to avail of international financial aid. Because of the steep rise in inflation, strikes and demonstrations, some of which were violent, broke out in many places. In 2005 the island republic remained dependent on international aid.
In the presidential elections on December 3, 2006, Ravalomanana was confirmed in office. On April 4, 2007, 75% of the electorate voted in a referendum for constitutional amendments to reform the administrative structure and to expand the political powers of the president. In the parliamentary elections on September 23, 2007, the ruling TIM party won a clear victory. She was able to win 106 of the 127 seats in the National Assembly. The opposition accused the government of massive falsification of the results.
In 2008, there was severe criticism of the government’s plan to lease large parts of the arable land of the island state, which is suffering from acute food shortages, to the South Korean Daewoo International Corporation; the project ultimately failed. As a result, a bitter power struggle broke out between Ravalomanana and the opposition leader Andry Rajoelina (* 1974), the mayor of Antananarivo, who accused the president of abuse of office and called for his resignation at mass rallies and a general strike. Drastic price increases and dissatisfaction with the president’s media policy fueled the protests. The domestic political crisis claimed well over 100 lives. Finally handed over Ravalomanana took power to the armed forces on March 17, 2009 and moved abroad. With the support of the army, Rajoelina eventually took over leadership of the country, circumventing the constitutional order and regardless of international protests. On March 21, 2009 he was sworn in as the new President. His first official act was to dissolve the Senate and the National Assembly. In response to external pressure and with the mediation of the South African Development Community (SADC), the hostile political camps agreed in various agreements on a power-sharing for a transitional period until new elections. That agreement failed in December 2009 when Rajoelina appointed a new head of government in his function as interim president.
In March 2010 the African Union imposed sanctions on the Rajoelina regime. This initiated a controversial referendum on November 17, 2010, with which a new constitution was approved, which gave Rajoelina the opportunity to run for president in new elections by lowering the passive voting age from 40 to 35 years. On August 28, 2010, former President Ravalomanana, who lived in exile in South Africa, was sentenced in absentia to life in forced labor for murder and aiding and abetting murder.
After difficult negotiations, the government and the opposition signed an agreement on September 17, 2011, through the mediation of SADC, to pave the way for the restoration of democracy. This confirmed Rajoelina in his function as interim president until new elections were held. A few days after the formation of a national unity government in November 2011, the former President Ratsiraka returned from exile in France. Contrary to the agreements made in September 2011, there were no democratic elections in 2012, and President Ravalomanana, who was ousted in 2009, was not allowed to return to the country. Interim President Rajoelina justified a landing ban for his aircraft on January 21, 2012 with safety problems. At the end of July and beginning of August 2012, the two politicians met under pressure from SADC in the Seychelles for reconciliation talks in order to resolve the state crisis, which was also increasingly affecting the country’s economy due to various international sanctions.
Finally, at the end of 2012, the two warring politicians agreed not to run for the presidential elections planned for July 24, 2013. In May 2013, Rajoelina surprisingly reversed his decision. Also the former President Ratsiraka and Lalao Ravalomanana, the wife of M. Ravalomanana, contrary to the provisions of the electoral law, were allowed to run for office. According to prozipcodes, SADC and the African Union did not accept these events, so that the planned election date could not be kept. In the end, the three politicians decided not to run. The runoff election for the presidency was won on December 20, 2013 by H. Rajaonarimampianina, the candidate of the Rajoelina camp. He got around 53.5% of the vote. The candidate of the Ravalomanana camp, the former Minister of Health Jean-Louis Robinson (* 1952), won 46.5% of the vote. In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, the Rajoelina party MAPAR became the strongest political force. Jean-Louis Robinson contested the election for electoral fraud, but the electoral court upheld the results of the runoff election. H. Rajaonarimampianina was sworn in on January 25, 2014 in the presidency. President M. Ravalomanana, ousted in 2009, returned to Antananarivo from a South African exile in October 2014, where he was arrested by the security forces.