French person among 6 held over plot to kill Madagascar president

Public security minister says those arrested also included two Malagasy and two Malagasy and French bi-nationals.

Police officers ride on their pick-up truck truck as they patrol in central Antananarivo [Reuters]
Police officers ride on their pick-up truck truck as they patrol in central Antananarivo [Reuters]

A French citizen is among six suspects arrested over a failed plot to murder Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina and other top political figures in the Indian Ocean island nation, according to officials.

“One of the arrested people is French, two of them are bi-national: Malagasy and French. The three others are Malagasy,”  Rodellys Fanomezantsoa Randrianarison, the public security minister, said late on Thursday.

Patrick Rajoelina, an adviser to the president, said two of those arrested had previously worked in the French military.

The announcements came a day after authorities said several foreign and Malagasy suspects had been arrested on Tuesday as part of an investigation “into an attack on state security”.

Attorney General Berthine Razafiarivony said the foiled plot included the “killing and neutralisation” of senior political figures, other than the president, giving no further details about the alleged plan.

Randrianarison previously said police had relevant information “for months”. They swooped to make simultaneous arrests in different locations and seized money and weapons, he added.

“There are also official documents which prove their involvement,” he said. “The foreigner hid his harmful schemes behind his business activity.”

Rajoelina was sworn in as president 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, while its southern region is in the grips of a famine.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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