The earliest history of Madagascar is unclear. Indonesians are believed to have migrated to the island about 700 A.D. From the 9th century, Muslim traders from East Africa and the Comoro Islands settled in Madagascar. King Andrianampoinimerina (1787-1810) ruled the major kingdom on the island, and his son, Radama I (1810-1828), unified much of the island. Radama was succeeded by his wife Ranavalona I in 1828. Suspicious of foreigners, she declared Christianity illegal in 1835 and halted most foreign trade.

The French made the island a protectorate in 1885 and in 1894-1895, ended the monarchy, exiling Queen Ranavalona III to Algiers. In World War II, the British occupied Madagascar, which retained ties to Vichy France.

On October 14, 1958, the country was renamed the Malagasy Republic and became autonomous within the French Community and Philibert Tsiranana was elected president. Madagascar became an independent member of the community in 1960. In May 1973, an army coup led by Maj. Gen. Gabriel Ramanantsoa ousted Tsiranana.

Didier Ratsiraka, named president on June 15, 1975, announced that he would follow a socialist course and, after nationalizing banks and insurance companies, declared all mineral resources nationalized. Repression and censorship characterized his regime. Ratsiraka was re-elected in 1989 in an election that led to riots and the formation of a multi-party system in 1990. Ratsiraka agreed to share power in 1991 with opposition leader, Albert Zafy. In a free presidential election held in 1993, Zafy defeated Ratsiraka.

In 1995, Zafy won passage of a constitutional amendment allowing the president, rather than the national assembly, to choose a prime minister. With the economy deteriorating, protesters staged street demonstrations in February 1996. Dissatisfaction with Zafy led to his impeachment by the national assembly in July 1996. Zafy lost the 1996 presidential election to Ratsiraka, who again became president in February 1997.

The December 2001 presidential election between incumbent president Didier Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana, the mayor of Antananarivo, proved inconclusive and a runoff vote was scheduled. Ravalomanana claimed the election was rigged, and in February 2002, he declared himself president. Ratsiraka responded by proclaiming martial law and set up a rival capital in Toamasina. After a recount in April, the high constitutional court declared Ravalomanana the winner. Ratsiraka fled to France.

In 2005, the government banned the New Protestant Church (FPVM), a growing charismatic church that had split from the mainline Reformed Protestant Church of Jesus Christ (FJKM). Ravalomanana, a lay leader in the FJKM, was accused of favoring one church over another in violation of the constitution, but the courts refused to overturn the decision. In December 2006, Ravalomanana won re-election. In January 2007, he appointed Charles Rabemananjara as prime minister.

After a bitter power struggle with opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, Ravalomanana resigned as president in March 2009. He handed power over to the military, which transferred control to Rajoelina, who then suspended Parliament. The turmoil began when Rajoelina was elected mayor of Antananarivo in December 2007, defeating the president's candidate. Tension peaked in December 2008 when Ravalomanana shuttered a television channel and radio station owned by Rajoelina. Rajoelina staged weekly protests that grew increasingly violent. In February 2009, Ravalomanana fired Rajoelina as mayor, and opposition protests intensified, prompting Ravalomanana to submit power to the military in March. Military leaders handed over the presidency to Rajoelina in March 2009. He was 35 years old at the time, making him the youngest president in the country's history. In August 2009, the two sides agreed to a power-sharing deal. However, the agreement was never implemented as supporters of Ravalomanana and Rajoelina bickered over the details and Rajoelina withdrew his support of the deal in December.

In November 2010, military officers claimed to have overthrown the government again by deposing President Andry Rajoelina. Rajoelina responded by declaring on television that he is still in charge. He told reporters he was "not bothered by declarations from a handful of people."

In March 2011, Rajoelina reappointed Albert Camille Vital as prime minister of a transitional government. The reappointment came after Vital resigned because 8 of 11 political parties signed an agreement to form a new administration. The country experienced economic and political turmoil since Rajoeling replaced Ravalomanana, which led to Madagascar's suspension from the African Union and the South African Development Community.

In October 2011, Prime Minister Albert Camille Vital and his government resigned. Omer Beriziky was named the new prime minister and took office on November 2, 2011. On November 21, Beriziky named a new government, but the opposition rejected the cabinet as illegal.

On December 20, 2013, Hery Rajaonarimampianina won the presidential run-off election defeating Jean Louis Robinson. Rajaonarimampianina assumed office on January 25, 2014.

In April 2014, President Hery Rajaonarimampianina named Roger Kolo prime minister and Jean Razafindravonona finance and budget minister.

© 2014 World Ministries International