Madagascar’s recent modern history has been plagued by turmoil and political unrest. In December 2006, President Marc Ravalomanana secured a second presidential term beating former prime minister Norbert Lala Ratsirahonan with 54.8% of the vote. Amidst violent protests in which dozens of people lost their lives, Ravalomanana struggled to cling to power, before eventually being ousted by Andry Rajoelina in March 2009.
Although Ravalomanana had successfully opened up Madagascar's economy to foreign investment, particularly in mining, he had failed to address the pressing issue of poverty with 70% of the population living on less than US$1 a day. With full military backing, Mr Rajoelina, a former DJ, proclaimed himself president and suspended parliament despite being technically too young to be in power at 34, according to the Madagascan constitution. The current minimum age is set at 40 for presidential candidates. He declared Ravalomanana a corrupt tyrant who had misspent public money and duped the voting population.
A shaky power-sharing agreement between Rajoelina and supporters of Marc Ravalomanana was abandoned within hours of being established – a great source of frustration and disappointment to the African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community and the UN, all three of whom sent in some of their top envoys to facilitate talks and negotiations.
After sacking Prime Minister Monja Roindefo he replaced him with academic Eugene Mangalaza before he, in turn, was ousted from his post. Mr Rajoelina then named Col Vital Albert Camille as a replacement, even though he had previously said he would appoint Cecile Manorohanta in the role.
Parliamentary elections have been scheduled by Rajoelina for November 2010, though he has declared he will not stand. Mr Rajoelina has also argued that all three surviving former heads of state, who are his political rivals, should also be barred from standing in the presidential election – though Marc Ravalomanana is highly likely to contest any such restrictions.