Madagascar gained its independence from French colonialism in 1960 after nearly 70 years under French rule. Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka was sworn into office on December 21, 1975, after a military coup ousted president Philibert Tsiranana, who had been in office since 1959. In his first term as president, Ratsiraka nationalized Madagascar’s banks, insurance companies and mineral resources, following a socialist model that was wrought with censorship and government repression. By the late 1980’s Ratsiraka’s socialist regime had impoverished Madagascar.
By the early 1990s, President Hastings Kamuzu Banda of the
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had been president of Malawi for thirty years, ever
since the country transitioned out of colonial rule. At the time, Malawi was a
single-party state in which political parties were illegal.
In Cameroon in 1989, attorney and Duala chief Yondo Black formed a new major political party, initiating a significant change in the national political climate towards support for a multi-party system. The ruling party of Cameroon was the Cameroonian People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), and at its helm was President Paul Biya. One of Black’s aims was to challenge the rule of Biya, who had been in office for nine years at that point. Biya and the party have been able to maintain a stronghold on national governance largely due to significant external support from France.
General Moussa Traoré obtained power in Mali in 1968 when he led a military coup d’etat that overthrew the left-leaning nationalist government that had ruled since 1960. Opposition towards Traoré grew during the 1980s, but didn’t fully emerge until the 1990s. During this time, Traoré imposed programs to satisfy demands of the International Monetary Fund, which brought increased hardship upon the country’s population while elites lived in luxury.
The Togolese President Gnassingbé Eyadema came to power in 1967 after he led the army in a bloodless coup to take over the previously multi-party government. By 1990, Eyadema had been president for 23 years and had banned all political parties except for his Rally of the Togolese People. President Eyadema had been able to keep the country’s economy relatively stable at the same time as he put many of his Kabye tribe members into top government and military posts. Nearly 70% of all members of the military were from the Kabye tribe, despite the fact that the Ewe tribe repres