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Frenchman among six arrested over plot to assassinate Madagascar president

Frenchman among six arrested over plot to assassinate Madagascar president
The six arrested include two individuals who served in the French Gendarmerie

A French citizen is one of six people arrested on suspicion of being involved in an attempt on MadagascarPresident Andry Rajoelina’s life in the latest episode of the political chaos gripping the Indian Ocean island.

“One of the arrested people is French, two of them are bi-national – Madagascan and French. The three others are Madagascan,” Rodellys Fanomezantsoa Randrianarison told a news conference late on Thursday.

He added that two of those arrested previously worked for the French military. Madagascar is a former French colony.

Local authorities have been investigating the alleged assassination since June, according to the Island’s Attorney General Berthine Razafiarivony, who said in a statement the arrests took place on Tuesday.

“According to evidence in our possession, these individuals devised a plan to eliminate and neutralise various Madagascan figures, including the head of state,” she said.

The details of the operation remain unclear as authorities still refuse to elaborate on details of the alleged plot.

However, some details have emerged on the identity of two of the arrested French individuals. Local media referred to them as retired military police officers. One of them appears to be a businessman who advises foreigners on investment opportunities in Madagascar.

The other is a French and Madagascan bi-national who served as an adviser to President Rajoelina until 2011. He is also a former French Gendarmerie.

The two men’s wives are also currently in police custody, according to AFP.

Mr Randrianarison said the police made simultaneous arrests in different locations and seized money and weapons linked to the assassination plot.

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

The French embassy in London didn’t reply to a request for comment by The Independent.

But the French Foreign Affairs Ministry told Reuters it had been informed of French nationals’ arrests and that they could get consular help if they asked for it.

President Rajoelina, 47, first took power in the deeply impoverished island country in a March 2009 coup, removing Marc Ravalomanana. He remained in control at the head of a transitional government until 2014.

In the 2019 elections, Ravalomanana challenged Rajoelina, lost, and said the vote was fraudulent.

Additional reporting by agencies