- Officials in Madagascar today announced the arrest of a top military officer accused of trying to dislodge President Marc Ravalomanana from power through the barrel of the gun last month. The officer has always held that the alleged "coup attempt" was only a "misunderstanding" and that he had meant to do no such thing.
General Andrianafidisoa was captured a by security officers yesterday evening when he was having a drink at a hotel in the town of Ankadifotsy, a suburb of the Malagasy capital Antananarivo. It was reported that he did not resist arrest.
Also known as "General Fidy", the alleged coup leader was reported to have taken over a military base and called on the army to topple President Ravalomanana, who was hoping to be re-elected for a second year mandate in office. The General's bid to contest the 3 December election was rejected for not having cash deposit.
General Fidy was said to have terrorised state officials with distributed leaflets, announcing the establishment of a regime led by senior military officers, thus raising fears that the 3 December poll would turn violent.
The General has been in hiding since he supposedly launched the foiled coup. In a radio interview given shortly after he went into hiding, General Fidy claimed there was no coup attempt and that it had all been "a misinterpretation". This was however not believed by authorities, and the state offered US$ 50,000 for any information leading to his arrest.
Malagasy officials have also launched a manhunt on the Mayor of southern town of Fianarantsoa, Pety Rakotoniania, one of the contenders of the last Presidential elections.
However, state officials said his hunt had nothing to do with his relationship with General Fidy but his involvement in misuse of official cars, violation of the electoral law, threatening authorities with death as well as using derogatory languages against the police.
Mayor Rakotoniania, a close associate of General Fidy, is said to have supported the alleged coup attempt.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry of Madagascar announced that President Ravalomanana was poised to win the election that attracted a 61 percent turnout at the close of vote counting on 3 December. He has so far secured 54.8 percent of the counted votes, which means he will avoid a second round voting.
The incumbent businessman-cum-politician had defeated 13 other candidates who stood against him. He has outsmarted his main challenger, Lahiniriko Jean, former head of national assembly who was said to have polled only 11.7 percent of the votes.
Eighth of its kind since the Indian Ocean island gained independence from France in 1960, the 3 December poll attracted 4,521,267 voters out of a total voter population of 7,457,204, preliminary figures say. A final confirmation by the Antananarivo Constitutional High Court is expected at latest next week, when Mr Ravalomanana is expected to be declared the official winner of the poll.
Opposition candidates have cried irregularities in the voting system and vowed to contest the results in the courts. Several top candidates had been barred from challenging the incumbent, and little time was given the opposition to prepare for the anticipated polls. Also, state media had been excluding the opposition, they hold. International observers however said the poll had been generally free and fair.
While the official results still are not pronounced, Mr Ravalomanana was seen jubilating his 57th birthday yesterday on state television. "I know the current results are not yet official, but I hope and I know that we will be victorious," Mr Ravalomanana assured.
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