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.
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.
Dispute 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
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
12,500 men (2017)
The air Force
500 men (2017)
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)
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.
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).
Rajoelina abandons agreement
Rajoelina violates the power sharing agreement (see August 2009) and forms
her own government.
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.
Prison for the former president
The exiled President Ravalomanana is sentenced in his absence to four years
in prison for abuse of power.
Rajoelina's takeover of power is approved
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
President Ravalomanana resigns after hard pressure and formally surrenders
power to the military leadership who immediately hands it to Rajoelina.
Followers of Rajoelina are being shot
Security forces kill around 30 supporters of Rajoelina who participated in a
protest march against the presidential palace.
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.