Antananarivo - Malagascar police said on Tuesday they discovered about $65 000 in a lawmaker's car after being tipped off that she was carrying cash to incite political unrest.
The incident on Monday evening, in which police used tear gas to force Lanto Dakotomanga out of her vehicle, highlighted rising tensions in the large Indian Ocean island country still plagued by turmoil six years after a coup.
"We had information about the existence of a cash distribution to create unrest. We conducted surveys, and this led us to this car," said General Anthony Rakotoarisoa, head of the Gendarmerie Intelligence Department.
Sylvestre Razafimahefa, Rakotomanga's lawyer, said the money was to fund local election candidates for her MAPAR party. Two cartons filled with bundles of cash were taken to police offices, where the packages were opened in front of journalists.
Police said the incident was under investigation but did not say whether any charges might be brought.
Rakotomanga, an ally of former president Andry Rajoelina who seized power in the coup, could not be reached for comment.
Madagascar has been embroiled in fresh crisis since lawmakers impeached President Hery Rajaonarimampianina last month, threatening to derail rebuilding efforts in motion since a peaceful presidential election at the end of 2013.
Western donors like the United States have called for political unity, saying instability was hurting a fragile recovery in Madagascar.
The MAPAR coalition, whose full name translates as "Together With Andry Rajoelina", backed Rajaonarimampianina's candidacy in the peaceful 2013 election. It has since switched allegiances and now opposes the president.
Rajaonarimampianina has challenged the vote count of his impeachment in Madagascar's constitutional court, which is still deliberating. Lawmakers accused him of violating the constitution and failing to deliver on electoral promises.