- Tensions flared briefly in Madagascar as an army general's call for President Marc Ravalomanana to stand down ahead of next month's presidential elections was "misinterpreted" as a coup attempt.
Local media reported that retired General Andrianafidisoa, commonly known as 'General Fidy', had called for military action against President Ravalomanana and allegedly distributed leaflets announcing a provisional government led by the military at a base near the international airport of the capital, Antananarivo, on Friday.
According to a western diplomat, 'General Fidy' was "interviewed on local radio this morning [Monday]. He said there was no coup attempt and that it was a misinterpretation, but he admitted that he was at the base from Friday to Saturday, and had openly called for the president to stand down because the government was 'anti-constitutional'."
One government soldier was killed in an exchange of gunfire at the military base early on Saturday morning, when security forces attempted to arrest the general.
However, the event does not appear to have ruffled the military. "It seemed like a minor incident and the army did not want to follow him," said Solofo Randrianja, professor of Political History at the University of Toamasina, adding that "they still have not caught him".
During the radio interview, 'General Fidy' claimed he was 150 kilometres outside the capital, and was aware that a warrant for his arrest had been issued. Minister of Defence Petera Behajaina said sanctions in accordance with the military code would be taken against the General.
"The situation has remained calm in the entire country as well as in the capital ... over the weekend, and is still calm," the UN Resident Coordinator, Bouri Sanhouidi, told the UN media 'IRIN'.
The incident is not expected to affect the upcoming polls. "The majority of the population only learnt about the incident through the radio and newspaper, as the situation appeared normal in the streets and in business," Mr Sanhouidi said.
Kelley Jones, Resident Representative of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a US-based civic organisation working to strengthen and expand global democracy, commented: "I don't think this will affect the electoral process - most people here are not even aware of what happened." The NDI is conducting an assessment of the electoral environment on the Indian Ocean island.
President Ravalomanana came to power after elections in 2001 ended the rule of Didier Ratsiraka, who had controlled the country since a military coup in 1975. Mr Ratsiraka refused to accept defeat, sending Madagascar into eight months of crisis marked by violence and considerable economic disruption. After a recount in April 2002, Madagascar's High Constitutional Court (HCC) pronounced Mr Ravalomanana president. "Fidy was one of the generals that supported Ravalomanana in 2001," Mr Jones said.
Once a presidential hopeful, the HHC reportedly barred 'General Fidy' from standing for election on 3 December because he did not pay the US$ 11,400 deposit required of all candidates. The HHC also barred the candidate of ex-President Ratsiraka's Arema party because he had not handed in the application in person. The exiled candidate had been denied entrance into the country.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.