Scheme to ‘kill president’ foiled in Madagascar
Authorities in Madagascar have said several “foreign and Malagasy” suspects were arrested over a suspected plot to assassinate President Andry Rajoelina.
Attorney General Berthine Razafiarivony said on Thursday the arrests took place on Tuesday as part of an investigation “into an attack on state security”.
Razafiarivony, addressing reporters, also said the foiled plot included the “killing and neutralisation” of senior political figures other than the president.
There was no official confirmation about the nationality of the foreign suspects.
The extent of the plan, or how far advanced, was not immediately clear.
During the country’s Independence Day celebrations on June 26, the gendarmerie announced that they had foiled an assassination attempt on their boss, General Richard Ravalomanana, who is also Rajoelina’s right-hand man.
Rajoelina was sworn in as president of the Indian Ocean island country in 2019 after a hard-fought election beset by allegations of fraud and a constitutional court challenge from his main rival and predecessor Marc Ravalomanana .
The 44-year-old first seized power in March 2009 from Ravalomanana with the backing of the military and remained president of a transitional government until 2014.
The former French colony has had a long history of coups and unrest since gaining independence from France in 1960.
The island is internationally famed for its unique wildlife and vanilla but is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Nine out of 10 people live on less than $2 a day.
The country has been under a lockdown since the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year and its southern region is in the grips of a famine.
A separate statement by the public security minister on Wednesday said that six people had been arrested: one foreign citizen, two dual nationals, and three Madagascans.
“The police had information for several months, but only now was there an opportunity to arrest them,” that statement said.
Rajoelina first seized power in the deeply impoverished former French colony of 26 million in a March 2009 coup, ousting Marc Ravalomanana.
He remained in control at the head of a transitional government until 2014.
In the 2019 elections, Ravalomanana challenged Rajoelina, lost, and cried fraud.
Nine out of 10 Madagascans live on less than $2 a day. Climate change and deforestation have exacerbated the worst drought for four decades in the south of the island.
“According to the evidence in our possession, these individuals had devised a plan for the elimination and neutralisation of a number of people including the head of state,” the attorney general said in a statement.
It added that investigations were under way and further details could not be disclosed. The extent of the plot, or how far advanced, was not immediately clear.
A separate statement by the public security minister on Wednesday said that six people had been arrested: one foreign national, two bi-nationals, and three Madagascan nationals. - AFP