Two Frenchmen among 6 held over plot to kill Madagascar president

President Andry Rajoelina inspects the troops on Madagascar's Independence Day last month. RIJASOLO AFP/File

Two Frenchmen are among the several in Madagascar following a failed assassination attempt on Madagascar’s President, Andry Rajoelina.

Prosecutors said the arrests were made on Tuesday as part of an investigation into an attack on state security.

It is understood the men, named as dual Franco-Malagasy national Paul Rafanoharana and Frenchman Philippe François, have been charged with undermining state security.

The French nationals are both “Saint-Cyriens” – French cadet officers who trained at the French military academy of Saint-Cyr.

Mr Rafanoharana is the head of an investment fund, while François is an adviser to the Archbishop of Antananarivo, Monsignor Odon.

Mr Rafanoharana’s name has recently been circulated as a potential prime minister in the event of a cabinet reshuffle.

Prosecutors say they have evidence of a plot to assassinate several high-ranking political figures, including the president in the Indian Ocean island nation.

“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.

Mr 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.

Mr 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.”

Mr 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 Mr 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.

According to an anonymous source, Mr Rafanoharana was arrested by a dozen armed men at his home on Tuesday evening, while François was arrested in the departure lounge of Ivato airport as he was about to leave for France.

Source: RFI

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