Six Arrested in Plot to Assassinate President of Madagascar

Six people have been arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina.

Reuters reported Thursday that the arrests, which were made Tuesday, followed a months-long investigation into the foiled assassination plan. Those arrested include foreign citizens and Madagascar nationals.

"According to the evidence in our possession, these individuals had devised a plan for the elimination and neutralization of a number of people including the head of state," Attorney General Berthine Razafiarivony said in a statement.

Razafiarivony said that the investigation is ongoing.

A separate statement from Madagascar's public security minister provided additional details on those apprehended by police: one is a foreign national, two are dual nationals and three are Madagascar citizens.

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

France24 reported that two of the people arrested in connection to the assassination plot are French nationals. The two French citizens are reportedly retired military officers.

Rajoelina, 47, first seized power in the Indian Ocean island nation in March 2009 after ousting President Marc Ravalomanana in a coup that was backed by the military. At the time, Rajoelina was Africa's youngest president at age 34.

Six Arrested In Assassinate Plot Madagascar's President
Six people have been arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina. In this photo, Rajoelina inspects the troops during the Independence Day celebration at the brand new Barea Stadium in Antananarivo on June 26, 2021. RIJASOLO/AFP via Getty Images

Before the coup, Rajoelina served as the mayor of the nation's capital city Antananarivo. Rajoelina was a former disc jockey who made his fortune in media and advertising before stepping into politics.

He was in control of the island nation for four years, but his takeover of the government caused investors and donors to cut aid. In 2014, Hery Rajaonarimampianina won the first election since the 2009 coup to become Madagascar's new president.

In 2018, Rajoelina and Ravalomanana faced off again but this time in an election. Rajoelina captured 56 percent of the vote to Ravalomanana's 44 percent, according to the final results. Ravalomanana claimed the election was tainted by widespread fraud and petitioned the Constitutional Court, but the court upheld Rajoelina's victory.

Madagascar, a former French colony, has had a history of coups and civil unrest since gaining independence in 1960. Most of Madagascar's 25 million people live in extreme poverty, with nine in 10 Madagascans live on less than $2 per day.

According to French24, Madagascar's gendarmerie announced on June 26 they stopped an assassination attempt on their leader Gen. Richard Ravalomanana.

In 2018, the presidential elections in the island nation were marred by protests and accusations of fraud. Thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest the corruption in January of 2019.