- The operating environment in Madagascar is notoriously challenging, with the political arena in a constant state of flux.
- Hopes were raised following the establishment of a “Fourth Republic,” ushered in by a newly adopted constitution in 2010, and the subsequent democratic election of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina in 2013.
- These elections, deemed free and fair by outside observers, paved the way for the re-engagement of donors and organizations, including the World Bank, IMF, and African Union.
- Although growth seems to be incremental, the country is experiencing renewed attention from international investors, and Rajaonarimampianina seems determined to steer Madagascar out of economic downturn, political turmoil and international isolation.
Malagasy politics is centered on personalities, rather than policies. The 2013 elections typified this, with the two lead candidates, Rajaonarimampianina and his political opponent Dr Jean-Louis Robinson, acting as proxies for two former presidents, respectively, Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, neither of whom was deemed eligible to run.
The animosity and political wrangling between both “camps” has not diminished since the conclusion of the 2013 elections. Ravalomanana, President of Madagascar from 2001 to 2009, was overthrown by Rajoelina in an unconstitutional process condemned as a coup d’état in 2009. The Supreme Court declared Rajoelina President of the High Transitional Authority (HAT), an interim governing body tasked to move the country toward presidential elections. Rajoelina appointed Rajaonarimampianina in 2009 as Minister of Finance and Budget and, according to local sources, Rajaonarimampianina was “one of the worst offenders” of the corrupt practices that defined the HAT regime.
Rajaonarimampianina has since attempted to dissociate himself from Rajoelina’s legacy whilst trying to consolidate his grip on power. Rajaonarimampianina’s new cabinet, formed on 25 January 2015, saw the removal of key MAPAR figures (Rajoelina’s party) including two senior officials from the armed forces who are loyal to Rajoelina. New appointments were geared towards reconciling differences with military factions, including factions associated with former president Admiral Didier Ratsiraka (in power 1975-1993), and Ravalomanana.