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Madagascar Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Officially for Madagascar an alliance-free foreign policy. In practice, the country is close to the western world, especially the former colonial power of France. A coup de force in 2009 made Madagascar internationally isolated until 2014, when the country gained a new elected president and the isolation from the outside world could be broken.

During President Ratsiraka's time as dictator in the 1970s and 1980s, the regime cultivated contacts with the Eastern Bloc, but after democratization in the early 1990s, the gaze turned to the West.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Madagascar for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

France has long been Madagascar's largest lender and aid provider and most important trading partner. But conflict issues have not been lacking. Only in 1998 did the two countries settle on France's claim for compensation for the nationalization of French assets by Madagascar after independence in 1960.

The two countries dispute the right to a few small islands off the coast of Madagascar. In 2000, an agreement was reached that Iles Glorieuses and three small uninhabited islands should be jointly administered by France, Madagascar and Mauritius, but the question of which country the islands belong to was debated.

Defense and Foreign Policy of MadagascarDispute over coral islands

During President Ravalomanana (2002–2009), Madagascar approached the United States, as France initially supported President Ratsiraka in a power struggle against Ravalomanana (see Modern History). However, when the United States recognized Ravalomanana as president, France and other EU countries followed suit, and relations between Madagascar and France improved.

When Ravalomanana was forced out of power by Andry Rajoelina in March 2009, both the US and the EU and France described the change of power as a coup. For the same reason, Madagascar was excluded from the regional cooperation organizations AU and SADC. In January 2014, when Rajaonarimampianina was sworn in as new elected president, Madagascar was allowed to rejoin the AU and SADC. Cooperation with the World Bank and IMF lending agencies was also resumed after being frozen under Rajoelina's power holdings.

Rajaonarimampianina devoted much of her time as President (2014–2018) to traveling around the world and restoring Madagascar's relationships with the outside world as well as securing financial support for the country. When Rajoelina returned to power in a democratic way through victory in the 2018 presidential election, outward politics continued. At a visit to France in May 2019, Rajoelina and French President Macron agreed to form a commission to resolve the conflict on the coral islands of Iles Eparses, which France manages but which Madagascar has been claiming since 1973.

Chinese presence

Madagascar's relations with China have been strengthened since 1999, when Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao visited the country. Economic cooperation has grown and Madagascar has received favorable loans from China. China has also invested in Malagasy infrastructure, especially between 2009 and 2014, when the US and the EU targeted sanctions against Madagascar.

When Rajaonarimampianina met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in September 2018, he gave Madagascar support for China's giant infrastructure project New Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which involves a major expansion of roads, railways, ports, etc. in parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. The growing Chinese presence in Madagascar has led to popular protests in several places.

In connection with the approach to China, Madagascar 2000 severed its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be part of China.

The external threats to Madagascar's security are few. The armed forces, like the police, are primarily tasked with ensuring that law and order are followed within the country. It has happened that the military interfered in domestic politics; Rajoelina was helped by military forces to come to power in 2009.

FACTS - DEFENSE

army

12,500 men (2017)

The air Force

500 men (2017)

The fleet

500 men (2017)

Military expenditure's share of GDP

0.6 percent (2017)

Military spending's share of the state budget

2.9 percent (2017)

2009

December

Ex-presidents are accused of coup attempts

When Rajoelina fails from a new meeting in Maputo in Mozambique, the three presidents allocate the ministerial posts themselves but are accused of coup attempts and high treason by Rajoelina.

November

New power sharing agreement is concluded

The four main political leaders - Rajoelina, Ravalomanana, Ratsiraka and Zafy - agree on a new power-sharing agreement (see August 2009 and September 2009).

September

Rajoelina abandons agreement

Rajoelina violates the power sharing agreement (see August 2009) and forms her own government.

August

Mediation leads to division of power

Following international mediation, an agreement on power sharing is signed between the country's four most important leaders: Rajoelina and the presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy.

June

Prison for the former president

The exiled President Ravalomanana is sentenced in his absence to four years in prison for abuse of power.

March

Rajoelina's takeover of power is approved

21 March

The Constitutional Court approves Rajoelina's takeover of power. He formally becomes "President of the High Transitional Authority", as he is, by the constitution, too young to be the President of the Republic.

The President resigns

March 17

President Ravalomanana resigns after hard pressure and formally surrenders power to the military leadership who immediately hands it to Rajoelina.

February

Followers of Rajoelina are being shot

Security forces kill around 30 supporters of Rajoelina who participated in a protest march against the presidential palace.

January

Self-appointed leaders create chaos

Chaos erupts in the capital with raids and fires since Mayor Rajoelina called for strikes. He is dismissed after proclaiming himself the country's leader. Dozens of people are killed in the riot that ensues.


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