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Madagascar President - Didier Ratsiraka - 1975-1993

Born November 4, 1936 in Vatomandry in the province of Toamasina, Didier Ratsiraka was the youngest of ten children. In June 1955 Didier Ratsiraka obtained his Bachelor Part 1 High School Montgeron (Annex Henri-IV), France. Then, he was accepted in the terminal and preparatory course, modern elementary Mathematics series, the Lycée Henri-IV before accessing the sector Higher mathematics and special mathematics from which he chose the military path.

In 1960 he was admitted to Naval School of Lanvéoc Poulmic Brest Finistère. Second in his class, he earned the degree from the Naval Academy and became engineer Bridge Officer. He continued his studies in 1965 at the School of Electronic Delivery Officers (Bormettes, Toulon) from where he graduated of Patented Communications Engineer. He joined the "School of naval war" in Paris (1970 to 1972) and there graduating with honors. He will use his stay in Paris to complete his studies at the Sorbonne in the right sector, political economy and international financial institutions.

He returned to the country in July 1963 and has to ANTSIRANANA under the rank of second class ensign (lieutenant ). He is the first Naval officer in the Malagasy Navy. He married Marthe Celine VELONJARA in December 1963. This union saw the birth of three daughters Olga, Sophie, Annick and a boy, Xavier.

In 1964 he was on a mission to Mahajanga for a period of 8 months. He later decided to undergo training in Toulon for 1 year and a half and then returns to Antsiranana appointed command of Tanamasoandro, a Franco-Malagasy building. Later, he successively assumes command of Mailaka I then Mailaka II. The Mailaka II Didier Ratsiraka takes over during a naval war game which opposes the "Joan of Arc" and "Victor Schuelcher" buildings in France wetting Antsiranana. On May 27, 1972 he was Appointed Minister Foreign government RAMANANTSOA after serving as military attaché in the Embassy of Madagascar in Paris.

A provisional military directorate ruled until a new government was formed 15 June 1975, under Didier Ratsiraka, who becomes Chairman of the Board Supreme Revolutionary Council. On March 19, 1976 Didier Ratsiraka created the AREMA party (ny Antoky Revolisiona Malagasy). During the 16 subsequent years of President Ratsiraka's rule, Madagascar's government was committed to revolutionary socialism based on the 1975 constitution that established a highly centralized state. Elections in 1982 and 1989 returned Ratsiraka for a second and third 7-year presidential term. November 7, 1982: Didier Ratsiraka with 80.17% of votes , won the presidential election over his opponent MONJA Jaona 19.83%. He was reappointed for a second term of 7 years. March 12, 1989: Presidential Election. Didier Ratsiraka re-elected President for 7 years with 62.7% against Manandafy RAKOTONIRINA (MFM) 20%, Jerome Marojama RAZANABAHINY (VONJY) 15% MONJA Jaona (MONIMA)

For much of this period, only limited and restrained political opposition was tolerated, with no direct criticism of the president permitted in the press. In the late 1980s, the Ratsiraka regime came under increasing pressure to make fundamental changes. With a deteriorating economy, mass demonstrations, and crippling general strikes, the limited economic and political reforms Ratsiraka enacted were insufficient to placate a growing opposition movement known as Hery Velona or "Active Forces." A number of already existing political parties and their leaders, among them Albert Zafy and Rakotoniaina Manandafy, anchored this movement.

In a bid to placate this opposition, Ratsiraka replaced his prime minister in August 1991 but suffered an irreparable setback soon thereafter when his troops fired on peaceful demonstrators marching on his suburban palace, killing more than 30. In an increasingly weakened position, Ratsiraka acceded to negotiations on the formation of a transitional government.

The resulting "Panorama Convention" of October 31, 1991, stripped Ratsiraka of nearly all of his powers, created interim institutions, and set an 18-month timetable for completing a transition to a new form of constitutional government. The High Constitutional Court was retained as the ultimate judicial arbiter of the process. In March 1992, a widely representative National Forum organized by the Malagasy Christian Council of Churches (FFKM) drafted a new constitution, which was put to a nationwide referendum in August 1992 and approved by a wide margin, despite efforts by pro-Ratsiraka "federalists" to disrupt balloting in several coastal areas.

Madagascar President - Didier Ratsiraka - 1997-2002

After President Zafy's impeachment by the National Assembly in 1996 and the short quasi-presidency of Norbert Ratsirahonana, the 1997 elections once again pitted Zafy and Ratsiraka, with Ratsiraka this time emerging victorious. The National Assembly, dominated by members of President Ratsiraka'a political party AREMA, subsequently passed the 1998 constitution, which considerably strengthened the presidency.

In December 2001, a presidential election was held in which both major candidates claimed victory. The Ministry of the Interior declared incumbent Ratsiraka of the AREMA party victorious. Opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana claimed victory over Ratsiraka, but the government announced that he had won only 46% of the vote, forcing a runoff. Ravalomanana denounced reported results and proclaimed himself president, creating a standoff between his and Ratsiraka’s supporters. A recount in Apr. 2002, which was negotiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and agreed to by both candidates, declared Ravalomanana the winner, but Ratsiraka rejected those results.

A political crisis followed in which Ratsiraka supporters cut major transport routes from the primary port city to the capital city, a stronghold of Ravalomanana support. Although Ravalomanana gained control of the capital, Ratsiraka moved his government to Toamasina and had strong support outside the capital and in much of the army. Forces supporting Ravalomanana gradually won control of most of the island (except Toamasina prov.). Sporadic violence and considerable economic disruption continued until July 2002, when Ratsiraka and several of his prominent supporters fled to exile in France.

The African Union, the OAU’s successor, initially refused to recognize the new government and called for new elections. In Dec., 2002, Ravalomanana’s party won a majority in elections for a new parliament, and the African Union subsequently recognized the new government. Ratsiraka was tried in absentia and convicted on charges of embezzlement in 2003.

In addition to political differences, ethnic differences played a role in the crisis and continue to play a role in politics. Ratsiraka is from the coastal Betsimisaraka tribe, and Ravalomanana comes from the highland Merina tribe.

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Page last modified: 13-10-2016 19:38:26 ZULU