Madagascar: 2001 Presidential election dispute

Updated June 2010

Extracted from: EISA 2007 Election Observer Mission Report Presidential Elections 2006 | Mission d'observation Electorale Rapport Elections Presidentielles 2006 [PDF document], 3-4.

The presidential elections held on 16 December 2001 resulted in a dispute in which the then main opposition candidate, Marc Ravalomanana, claimed an outright victory over the incumbent Didier Ratsiraka. This electoral standoff led to months of public strikes and mass protests in the capital and around the country, nearly causing the secession of half of the country. The second round of the presidential election between Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka was twice postponed and eventually cancelled. As the island was pushed to the brink of civil war, Ratsiraka declared a state of emergency after Ravalomanana proclaimed his victory and held an inauguration ceremony on 22 February 2002.

Amid growing political and national instability, both Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka agreed to a recount of the December 2001 poll. A newly reconstituted HCC officially released the results of the recount on 29 April 2002 in which Ravalomanana won the polls with 51.46 percent of the vote [see 2001 Presidential results for a comparison]. The recount further indicated that of 10 259 polling stations, discrepancies had occurred at 6 236.

Ravalomanana was inaugurated for a second time on 5 May 2002. But it was not until July 2002 that he gained full control of the country, after Ratsiraka and several of his prominent supporters fled the island to seek asylum in France. This ultimately ended the seven-month political crisis.

2001 election dispute settlement: Chronology of events

Extracted from: Lucien Toulou 2009 "Chapter 6: Madagascar" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 218.

January The HCC asks the National Electoral Council (NEC) to conduct a recount and decides that a second round will be held
February UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appeals for a peaceful and constitutional resolution of the crisis
March The contact group from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) suggests the formation of a government of national reconciliation
April Six of the nine HCC judges have their nomination annulled by the Supreme Court and those replaced on the eve of the election are reinstated
The Supreme Court's administrative chamber orders a re-tabulation of the election results
Signature of the Dakar agreement between the two candidates (Dakar I) providing for a comprehensive political solution to the crisis
The HCC declares Ravalomanana the winner of the first round
An OAU ministerial declaration urges the two rivals to comply with the Dakar agreement
May Ravalomanana is sworn in as president for the second time
June Second meeting of the two rivals in Dakar (Dakar II), Ratsiraka flees to France while Ravalomanana consolidates his position as the new president