Country Listing

Maldives Table of Contents


The Military and the Government


People's Armed Forces troops of Madagascar
Courtesy Thomas P. Ofcansky

After he came to power in 1975, Ratsiraka promised to bring about a "socialist revolution." As part of this policy, Ratsiraka enlarged and reorganized the security forces to make them appropriate for a "people's army" in a "socialist revolutionary" state. In 1975 he renamed the National Army the People'a Armed Forces (Forces Armées Populaires--FAP) and expanded its mission. Henceforth, the FAP engaged in civic-action programs and spread ideological education in the countryside. Between 1975 and 1980, the FAP doubled in size.

This reorganization diluted the power of the former National Army, which owed little loyalty to Ratsiraka. To prevent the FAP from challenging his authority, Ratsiraka started transferring able and experienced officers from troop command responsibilities to more senior, but less powerful, positions. Invariably, the new posts were in the inspector general's section of the Office of the President and in various Ministry of Defense committees that studied how the FAP could best facilitate national development.

Despite these changes, the FAP contributed little to the country's "socialist revolution" and remained a potentially important political player. Nevertheless, Ratsiraka, relying on manipulation and intimidation, retained almost absolute control of the armed forces until the growth of the pro-democracy movement in the early 1990s. Pro- and anti-democracy factions emerged in the FAP and many other state security services. Clashes among these factions added to the political turmoil sweeping through Madagascar, which eventually doomed the Ratsiraka regime.

Under the Ratsiraka regime, the FAP, in conjunction with the Ministry of Defense, annually assessed the military's needs. The Ministry of Defense then sent budget recommendations to Ratsiraka, who made final budget decisions. With the formation of the FAP in 1975, the cost of maintaining the military establishment became a greater burden on the national budget. However, after the Cold War ended and foreign military assistance declined, the Malagasy defense budget also decreased from more than US$101 million in 1979 to about US$36 million in 1991.

Data as of August 1994