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The independent years

Although largely peaceful, Madagascar's "velvet revolution" has in recent weeks turned increasingly violent as rival leaders consistently refuse to re-enter negotiations. News reports estimate that 25 people have been killed since a disputed presidential poll in December - the latest in a shooting in the capital, Antananarivo, on Tuesday. The shooting occurred outside the home of Gerard Andrialemirovason, director of the office of President Didier Ratsiraka, AFP reported. The political crisis engulfing the island began with the presidential poll in December The following is a chronology of events culminating in the political stalemate threatening to undo six years of economic development: 1946 - Madagascar becomes an Overseas Territory of France. 1947 - French suppress armed rebellion in east. Thousands are killed. 1958 - Madagascar votes for autonomy. 1960 26 June - Independence with Philibert Tsiranana as president. 1972 - Amid popular unrest following economic decline in the 1960s, Tsiranana dissolves government and hands power to army chief General Gabriel Ramanantsoa as head of a provisional government. He reduces the country's ties with France in favour of links with the Soviet Union. The aim of achieving a socialist paradise did not, however, materialise. 1975 June - Lieutenant-Commander Didier Ratsiraka is named head of state after a coup. The country is renamed the Democratic Republic of Madagascar and Ratsiraka is elected president for a seven-year term. 1976 - Ratsiraka nationalises large parts of the economy and forms the AREMA party. Over the years he increases state control over the economy until 1986, when he changes tack and promotes a market economy. 1991 - The regime starts to buckle under the weight of a growing opposition voice. Ratsiraka orders security forces to open fire on the crowds outside the presidential palace demanding his resignation. About 130 people are killed. 1992 - Under pressure of demonstrations, Ratsiraka introduces democratic reforms. 1993 - Albert Zafy is elected president in the country's first multiparty elections. 1996 - Ratsiraka is voted back into office in an election marked by widespread apathy. 2000 March - Thousands are left homeless after two cyclones hit the island and nearby Mozambique. 2000 December - AREMA wins in most of the cities, apart from Antananarivo, in provincial elections. The elections are for a new system of local government designed to give the six provinces control of their development programmes, education and health. Some 70 percent of voters stay away after the opposition calls for a boycott, saying voters had not been properly informed about the reforms. 2001 May - Senate reopens after 29 years, completing the government framework provided for in the 1992 constitution which replaced the socialist revolutionary system. The new framework comprises a presidency, national assembly, senate and constitutional high court. 2001 December - First round of presidential elections. While officially no candidate won an absolute majority, opposition candidate Marc Ravalomanana claimed the election was rigged and refused to take part in a run-off. 2002 7 January - Opposition claims rigging and begins daily protests to pressure the Ratsiraka government for a recount. 2002 25 January 25 - Result announced, run-off ordered. Results from the Interior Ministry give Ravalomanana 46 percent against 40 percent for Ratsiraka. Ravalomanana says he won 53 percent and so should be sworn in straight away. The High Court orders a second round of elections. 2002 28 January - Opposition strike begins in protest High Court ruling. The strike is widely observed, resulting in the suspension of international and domestic flights. Employees of the state electricity and water company also take part in the demonstration and many shops are closed. 2002 22 February - Ravalomanana declares himself president. Prime Minister announces state of emergency. The emergency measures ban demonstrations and allow the government to requisition all public services and take total control over the media, the post and telephone service. 2002 27 February - First violent clashes in capital after several weeks of demonstrations by opposition supporters. Two reported injured. 2002 28 February - Ratsiraka declares martial law in the capital. The police and military had already been given sweeping new powers after Ravalomanana declared himself president, but the new powers have not been used so far in the capital. 2002 1 March - Ravalomanana forms a rival government, a day after martial law came into force on the island state. 2002 8 March - The rival government holds its first cabinet meeting. 2002 12 March - The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) calls for a "national reconciliation" government to be set up in Madagascar until a new ballot is held to resolve the deepening political crisis. 2002 14 March - Opposition replaces top military officials in the capital. 2002 16 March - Jacques Sylla, head of the self-declared opposition government, enters the office of the prime minister after a tense stand-off with troops loyal to President Didier Ratsiraka, a journalist at the scene reported 2002 17 March - Ratsiraka rejects a proposal by the OAU to form a "reconciliation government" with the opposition. 2002 22 March - Ratsiraka sets new date for the second round of presidential elections. Ravalomanana snubs new poll date. 2002 26 March - Opposition-led alternate government unveils its governing platform, including a commitment to free trade and maintaining ties with France, the former colonial power. 2002 - April - The mostly peaceful election stand-off takes a violent turn as large crowds of opposition supporters loot homes of several government loyalists and burn one down overnight on Tuesday. Sources: IRIN, Sapa-AP/AFP, Reuters,BBC

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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