Madagascar police arrest six over alleged plot to kill president


FILE PHOTO: Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina attends a meeting to discuss the 20th replenishment of the World Bank's International Development Association, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) -Police in Madagascar this week arrested six people, including one foreign citizen, suspected of plotting to kill the president following what officials in the Indian Ocean island nation said was a months-long investigation.

Madagascar has a history of political violence. Former coup leader Andry Rajoelina, 44, was sworn in as president in 2019 after a hard-fought election and a constitutional court challenge from his rival.

"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 attorney general said in a statement.

It added that investigations were still ongoing. The arrests were made on Tuesday.

Officials did not give details on the extent of the plot or how far advanced it was when the suspects were apprehended. The attorney general's statement did not specify the nationality of the foreign citizen allegedly involved.

A separate statement by the public security minister on Wednesday said that six people had been arrested: one foreign citizen, two dual nationals, and three Madagascans.

"The police had information for several months, but only now was there an opportunity to arrest them," that statement said.

Rajoelina first seized power in the deeply impoverished former French colony of 26 million in a March 2009 coup, ousting Marc Ravalomanana. He remained in control at the head of a transitional government until 2014.

In the 2019 elections, Ravalomanana challenged Rajoelina, lost, and cried fraud.

Nine out of 10 Madagascans live on less than $2 a day. Climate change and deforestation have exacerbated the worst drought for four decades in the south of the island.

(Reporting by Lovasoa RabaryWriting by Maggie Fick;Editing by Alison Williams, Nick Macfie and Joe Bavier)

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