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Gilles Andriamahazo - 1975

Gilles Andriamahazo (5 May 1919 – 13 September 1989) was a Malagasy general and political figure. Originally he was a Merina and served as the military president of Madagascar (Chairman of the National Military Leadership Committee) between 12 February and 15 June 1975. Born in Fort Dauphin, Anosy Region on 13 May 1919, he followed a military career. At the end of high school, on December 14, 1942 he enlisted in the French army. He participated in the Second World War as a sergeant within the free French Forces after a Franco-British agreement placed the island under the authority of free France. In 1944 he trained at the Joint military Academy of Cherchell as an officer Cadet, and in 1949 was promoted to Lieutenant. Back in Madagascar in 1950 as aide high Commissioner Robert BARGUES, he fought in Algeria and Madagascar, before taking command of a company in Dreux. Andriamahazo served in the French Army and participated in the French military campaign against Algerian nationalists in the 1950s. In 1960, at the time of Madagascar's independence, he returned to the island with the rank of commander. After a command in Tulear, in 1970 he joined the General Staff, where he quickly rises to the rank of brigadier general. He was then appointed inspector general of the armed forces and the civil service. During the events of 1972 President TSIRANANA appointed him military governor.

On February 5, 1975, President Ramanantsoa, hoping to promote political unity, handed over the government to the former minister of interior, Colonel Richard Ratsimandrava (a Merina with a less "aristocratic" background). Six days later, on February 11, 1975, several members of the Mobile Police Group (Groupe Mobile de Police — GMP) assassinated Ratsimandrava. A National Military Directorate was formed to restore order by declaring martial law, strictly censoring political expression, and suspending all political parties.

The student strike by high school students, college students and unions, was suppressed by the Republican Forces of Security (FRS), hence the arrested students were sent on the island of Nosy Lava. Many (mostly mothers) went up to the palace was located where Andafiavaratra the Presidency to express their anger and condemnation following the arrests. General Andriamahazo accompanied by the Head of Province of Antananarivo Jean Jacques Rakotoniaina met up the crowd in the garden of Andohalo General Andriamahazo was heckled by the crowd: "raha Sahy ialahy dia midina aminay aty" ; but he descended, mingled with the crowd, parleyed and reassured mothers then promised that young people would be returned to their families as soon as possible and that he vouched. Reassured, the crowd dispersed. The following night, planes were chartered to pick up students on the island of Nosy Lava and not more than 24 hours later, everyone returned to their family. This explains the popularity, the esteem and trust that all Antananarivo city took to the General Andriamahazo.

General Gilles Andriamahazo formed the National Military Directorate, consisting of nineteen military officers from all branches of service and from all over the island. General Andriamahazo was head of state from February to June 1975, when he served as chairman of the ruling military junta after Col. Richard Ratsimandrava, the head of state, was assassinated after less than a week in office. In 1975, a new constitution was approved that renamed the Malagasy Republic the Democratic Republic of Madagascar.

General Andriamahazo is widely credited with having prevented an outbreak of civil war during the tense weeks after Colonel Ratsimandrava's assassination. He was one of the leading figures of the military regimes that ruled this Indian Ocean island from the overthrow of a civilian President, Philibert Tsiranana in 1972, until the emergence of Admiral Ratsiraka as a left-wing strongman in 1975.

General Andriamahazo resigned to make way for Adm. Didier Ratsiraka, the naval commander who had a seat on the National Military Directorate. The political transition crisis was resolved on June 15, 1975, when the National Military Directorate selected Lieutenant Commander Didier Ratsiraka as head of state and president of a new ruling body, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC). The choice of Ratsiraka allayed ethnic concerns because he was a côtier belonging to the Betsimisaraka ethnic group. In addition, Ratsiraka--a dedicated socialist--was perceived by his military peers as a consensus candidate capable of forging unity among the various leftist political parties (such as AKFM and Monima), students, urban workers, the peasantry, and the armed forces.

Under the Second Republic, Gilles Andriamahazo was promoted to major general and chairman of the military committee for development, before retiring in 1976. Andriamahazo died of a heart attack, officials said 15 September 1999. He was 70 years old.

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Page last modified: 14-10-2016 19:40:19 ZULU