A Foiled Coup Plot in Madagascar Signals Trouble Ahead

A Foiled Coup Plot in Madagascar Signals Trouble Ahead
President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar before a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Aug. 27, 2021 (AP photo by Lewis Joly).

Late last month, Malagasy authorities announced that they had foiled an assassination attempt on several high-profile political figures, including President Andry Rajoelina. According to a statement by the general prosecutor of the Antananarivo Court of Appeals, “several foreign and Madagascar nationals were arrested on July 20th as part of an investigation into an attack on state security.” Since then, over 20 well-connected individuals and high-ranking army and police officials have been arrested, including two French nationals, a retired general, a former prime minister, a former candidate for the Madagascan presidential election in 2006, and a senior official of the Gendarmerie, or national police force. 

This latest development in what the authorities say has been a months-long investigation into an attempt to destabilize the government follows a June 26 revelation that they had thwarted efforts to assassinate Gen. Richard Ravalomanana, the head of the Gendarmerie, and one of Rajoelina’s close allies. 

Madagascar has a history of recurring political crises. Rajoelina assumed the top job after the military unconstitutionally transferred power to him following a coup d’état in 2009. After presiding over the island nation’s increasing diplomatic isolation, he agreed to sit out the 2013 election as part of an internationally mediated transition he had long stymied, although the winning candidate, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, served in Rajoelina’s administration and was widely viewed as a placeholder for him. Rajoelina subsequently won a second, nonconsecutive term in 2018, running against the man he had deposed in 2009, Marc Ravalomanana. 

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