History, Movement Toward Independence
French constitution, Malagasy Republic, French Community, Social Democratic Party, coal deposits
Under the provisions of the French constitution of 1946, Madagascar and some dependencies became an overseas territory of France. The constitution established elective Madagascan provincial assemblies with limited powers. In March 1947, nationalists in east Madagascar began an armed revolt against the French that was not suppressed until August. After the revolt the government emphasized efforts to improve the economy by extending the road system and by exploiting coal deposits more systematically.
During the 1950s France took measures to increase self-government on the island. Elections held in 1951, 1952, and 1957 generally favored those who advocated gradual attainment of independence. The constitution of the Fifth Republic of France was approved by 78 percent of the Madagascan electorate in a referendum held on September 28, 1958. A subsequent congress of the members of the provincial councils proclaimed Madagascar, renamed the Malagasy Republic, a semiautonomous member of the French Community. Philibert Tsiranana, leader of the Social Democratic Party, was inaugurated as president and head of state on November 1. On June 26, 1960, the republic became fully autonomous while retaining a cordial association with France. In September it was admitted to the United Nations.
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