Malagasy police this week arrested six people, including two foreigners, on suspicion of plotting to kill President Andry Rajoelina.
The arrests followed months of investigations into the plot which they said targeted the president and other senior state officials. During the country’s Independence Day celebrations on June 26, the gendarmerie said they had foiled an assassination attempt on their boss, who is considered the president’s right-hand man, General Richard Ravalomanana.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office confirmed the arrests in the alleged assassination attempt on the president, saying authorities had taken into custody several “foreign and Malagasy” suspects. Two of the suspects, according to reports from the Indian Ocean island, have French citizenship.
“Several foreign and Madagascar nationals were arrested on Tuesday, July 20, as part of an investigation into an attack on state security,” said Prosecutor Berthine Razafiarivony, in a statement. “At this stage of the investigation, which is ongoing, the prosecutor-general’s office assures we will shed light in on this case.”
According to Radio France Internationale, the foreigners detained over the President Rajoelina alleged assassination attempt were Paul Rafanoharana, a Franco-Malagasy, and Philippe Francois, a Frenchman.
Rafanoharana was arrested at his house Tuesday evening, according to an unidentified source, while Francois was stopped at Ivato Airport as he was preparing to leave for France.
“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 Prosecutor-General said.
A separate statement by the Public Security Ministry in the SADC member state on July 21 said six people had been arrested: one foreign national, two bi-nationals, and three Malagasy.
“The police had information for several months, but only now was there an opportunity to arrest them,” the statement read.
President Rajoelina was sworn into office in 2019 after a closely contested election.
He was previously head of a provisional government from 2009 to 2014 – after he led his own coup to oust then President Marc Ravalomanana in 2009. At the time of the coup, Mr Rajoelina was mayor of the capital, Antananarivo.
When he forced Mr Ravalaomanana out of office with military backing in 2009, Mr Rajoelina was 35-years-old, making him the youngest head of state in the world at the time.
He led Madagascar as President of the High Transition Authority until the 2013 general election, in which he did not participate. He formally stepped down to pave way for a popularly elected government in 2014, before contesting the 2018 presidential election in 2018, which he won leading to his inauguration in January 2019.