Preventing armed conflict in Madagascar


A political crisis which verged on the brink of sparking a civil war in Madagascar was prevented from escalating by an effective international diplomatic intervention and the mediation of a peace agreement by the Southern African Development Community.

In February 2009, opposition protests in Madagascar were met with a brutal crackdown by security forces. The response cost the lives of 135 people and led to mutinies in the army.1 Opposition against President Marc Ravalomanana’s rule centred on a former mayor, Andry Rajoelina. In March 2009, military personnel supportive of Rajoelina removed the army Chief of Staff and Minister of Defence from office and deployed troops around the capital, Antananarivo, before forcing Ravalomanana to resign.2 In the ensuing weeks, Rajoelina declared himself head of a High Transitional Authority with military support and disbanded parliament. The crisis continued, with Ravalomanana continuing to claim the presidency, appointing a prime minister (who was duly arrested by security forces), and receiving support from factions in the military.3 With two rival governments, a divided military, and a paralysed state apparatus, Madagascar was on the verge of civil war.4

The African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the UN made efforts to mediate the crisis, attempting to host talks between Rajoelina and Ravalomanana early in 2009. However, once Rajoelina seized power, Madagascar was suspended from the AU and SADC, while the EU and US withheld aid.5 In June 2009, the SADC appointed the President of Mozambique to lead a mediation team to Madagascar along with representatives from the AU and l’Organisation de la Francophonie (OIF) to negotiate the formation of a power-sharing government.6 These efforts culminated in September with the signing of the Roadmap for Ending the Crisis in Madagascar, which affirmed commitments to free and fair elections, formed a transitional government, and invited the SADC to establish a mission to oversee implementation.7 The elections stipulated in the Roadmap were postponed several times, but when they did finally go ahead in 2013, both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were, under international pressure, prevented from standing. The UN provided funding and technical assistance for the election, while a host of international organisations deployed election monitors.8 These efforts helped to ensure a peaceful outcome to the contest. Thanks to effective diplomatic pressure and mediation, the political crisis in Madagascar was prevented from escalating into armed conflict.

1 Lauren Ploch. “Madagascar’s 2009 Political Crisis.” Congressional Research Service (R40448). (2009) p.1

2 Ibid. p.3

3 BBC. “Madagascar army split raises war fears.” BBC News. (2002) Available at: (Accessed 26/11/2020)

4 Alex Duval Smith. “Madagascar on the verge of civil war, US ambassador warns.” The Guardian. (2009) Available at: (Accessed 26/11/2020)

5 Ploch. “Madagascar’s 2009 Political Crisis.” p.4

6 Lesley Connolly. “The troubled road to peace: Reflections on the complexities of resolving the political impasse in Madagascar.” ACCORD Policy and Practice Brief, No. 21. (2013) p.2

7 Roadmap for Ending the Crisis in Madagascar - Commitments by Malagasy Political Stakeholders, 2011. Available at: (Accessed 26/11/2020)

8 The Carter Center. Legislative and Second Round of Presidential Elections in Madagascar: Final Report. (The Carter Center, 2013) p.4

Start Year


End Year




UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The African Union, l




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