Ravalomanana ‘behind mutiny’

2010-05-21 13:18

Antananarivo - Former Madagascar president Marc Ravalomanana was behind an attempted mutiny this week, Madagascar's government said on Friday, providing funds to sympathetic military leaders to destabilise the Indian Ocean island.

President Andry Rajoelina's office said in a statement that Ravalomanana had transferred a quarter of a million dollars to a number of security force chiefs behind an attempted uprising on Thursday that left two dead.

"The objective was to create tensions within the armed forces, especially among the top-brass," the statement said.

"The unease which is affecting the FIGN (elite military police unit) ... started from the moment the former president in exile in South Africa declared he had transferred 500 million ariary to certain senior military officials," it said.

Aides for Ravalomanana, a self-made millionaire exiled in South Africa, declined to comment.

In the latest escalation of a political crisis which has rocked Madagascar for almost 18 months and unnerved investors in the island's oil and mineral resources, security forces stormed a military camp on Thursday after gun-battles with dissident military police killed two soldiers.

The government also accused former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, who has headed months of mediation to end the leadership struggle, of siding with Ravalomanana.

Political manipulation

"(Chissano) has increasingly manouevred to defend the interests of the former head of state," Rajoelina's office said. "He is now trying to force the political leaders to take part in further talks which are destined to fail."

Rajoelina, Africa's youngest leader and a former disc jockey, toppled Ravalomanana with the help of renegade troops in March last year. The coup spooked foreign investors and hammered the tourism industry on the world's fourth largest island.

Rajoelina's failure to restore political order have deepened rifts within the armed forces, opening the doors to political manipulation by senior politicians, analysts have said.

Since the crisis erupted, there has been a diplomatic divide among African nations with Anglophones largely seen favouring Ravalomanana and Francophones tending to side with Rajoelina, African Union sources and analysts say.

A string of deals in late 2009 paved the way for a unity government but each collapsed with Rajoelina and Ravalomanana deadlocked over how to share the top jobs.

Earlier this month, Rajoelina set out a new roadmap to end the turmoil, promising a constitutional referendum in August and a presidential election in November.

  • Nick - 2010-05-21 14:53

    Have been to Madagascar 2 years ago. Beautiful country. Pity about politicians that mess up everything!

  • rhaj - 2010-05-21 16:57

    If I understand, it was not just a "mutiny" of a group of militaries. There are more militaries that have shown solidarity to "this group". That is to say that the militaries are divided. And if I understand, this "group of militaries" has committed to protect the movement of ecclesiastics in their right to speech and to manifest. I think this accusation from Rajoelina’s government is, once more, a diversion from the reality. People do not accept any more being bullied, gagged and subdued by Rajoelina’s government.

  • moekie - 2010-05-23 09:51

    I have not been, but my husband has been several times, on business trips and said how much potential the country has, with the right backing.

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