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.