JUST IN: Madagascar foils assassination attempt on president

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Prosecutors in Madagascar said Thursday they had foiled an attempt to assassinate President Andry Rajoelina and made several arrests.

“Several foreign and Madagascar nationals were arrested on Tuesday, July 20, as part of an investigation into an attack on state security,” prosecutor Berthine Razafiarivony said in a statement released overnight.

There was “a plan to eliminate and neutralise various Madagascan figures, including the head of state,” Razafiarivony said.

“At this stage of the investigation, which is ongoing, the prosecutor-general’s office assures we will shed light on this case,” she added.

Two French nationals are among those who were arrested on Tuesday, diplomatic sources told AFP.

The two suspects are reputedly retired military officers, according to the Taratra, a local news agency operation to the Communications ministry.

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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, 47, first seized power in March 2009 from Marc Ravalomanana with the backing of the military.

He won the last vote in December 2018 beating his main rival and predecessor Ravalomanana in an election beset by allegations of fraud.

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.

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-AFP

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