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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 16:44 GMT
Madagascar coup arrest
By Richard Hamilton
BBC, Antananarivo

The former head of the armed forces in Madagascar has been arrested and charged with an attempted coup against the regime of President Marc Ravalomanana.

General Bruno Rajohnson has been remanded in custody along with two other people.

Senior military officials
Marc Ravalomanana needs the support of the military leaders
Since he took power, the new president has been very worried about attempts to overthrow him.

On the night of 6 February a vehicle was stopped outside the ministry of defence in the capital, Antananarivo.

Inside were two soldiers heavily armed with grenades.

When questioned they said they were acting under the orders of a well known and outspoken critic of the government, Liva Ramahazomanana, and a top general whose identity was not revealed at the time.

Casting doubt

Now the government say that general was none other than General Rajohnson, a leading army officer who was armed forces chief under former President Didier Ratsiraka.

But already one newspaper, La Tribune, is casting doubt on the likely culpability of the general.

It says it is unlikely that he would have been involved in such a blatant attempt to overthrow the government.

The paper also suggested that it would be a little odd that the general would choose as an accomplice Madame Ramahazomanana who has for a long time been under surveillance by the intelligence services for her anti-establishment views.

Political observers suggest the move is more likely to be an attempt by the president himself to make sure those in high places in the military are his supporters.

But they also say that ruffling the feathers of the army can often backfire with disastrous consequences.



Madagascar leader routs rivals
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Madagascar's quiet revolution
17 Mar 02 |  Africa

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