By Lovasoa Rabary
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – A French national is among six people arrested on suspicion of involvement in a plot to assassinate the president of Madagascar, the Indian Ocean island’s public security minister said, and a second official said the The president’s security had been tightened.
“One of the detainees is French, two of them are binational: Malagasy and French. The other three are Malagasy,” Rodellys Fanomezantsoa Randrianarison told a news conference Thursday night.
Madagascar’s attorney general said Thursday that police arrested the six after what authorities said was a months-long investigation.
Patrick Rajoelina, an adviser to President Andry Rajoelina, told Reuters on Friday that two of those arrested had previously worked in the French army.
The French Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the arrests of French citizens and that they could obtain consular assistance if requested.
A spokesman for the French armed forces told Reuters it had no comment.
Patrick Rajoelina added that unspecified steps were taken to bolster the president’s security. “The evidence is tangible and we certainly do not take this lightly,” he said.
Madagascar has a history of political violence and instability. Andry Rajoelina, 44, was sworn in as president in 2019 after a very close election and a challenge before his rival’s constitutional court.
Rajoelina first seized power in the deeply impoverished former French colony of 26 million people in a March 2009 coup, which ousted Marc Ravalomanana. He maintained control at the head of a transitional government until 2014.
In the 2019 elections, Ravalomanana challenged Rajoelina, lost and said the vote was fraudulent.
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