Madagascar reacts swiftly to mutiny attempt

A gun battle broke out in Madagascar’s capital on Thursday after a mutiny by members of the security forces, leaving two soldiers dead and several civilians wounded, the prime minister said.

By early evening, army and gendarmerie forces had reclaimed control of the base in central Antananarivo that had been held by 30-odd mutineers from the gendarmerie’s elite intervention unit (FIGN).

“There are two dead,” Prime Minister Camille Vital told a press conference on Thursday evening. He said the victims were a member of the FIGN and a loyalist solider.

“Faced with the mutiny of some members of the FIGN, driven by religious elements in their midst, the armed forces were obliged to launch an assault on the gendarmerie camp,” Vital added.

He said the situation was under control and that steps had been taken to ensure security in the capital.

The clash erupted as political players on the Indian Ocean island nation struggled to find a way out of a crisis sparked by a March 2009 coup.

The vast island state has been unstable since the putsch led by Andry Rajoelina, a 35-year-old former disc jockey who ousted President Marc Ravalomanana with the army’s support.

According to security sources, the main grievance of the mutineers is related to money paid to their former boss by the ousted Ravalomanana early last year, when Rajoelina was leading street protests against his regime.

Colonel Richard Ravalomanana, who led the military operation against the protesting officers, said earlier that five people were wounded including three civilians.

Hospital sources earlier said six people sustained gunshot wounds.


An Agence-France Presse reporter near the scene of the shooting earlier saw one civilian with a bullet wound to the leg being evacuated by the Red Cross.

Ravalomanana, who is not related to the ousted president, said the assault was launched in self-defence and was over within hours.

“We never meant to attack but they started opening fire on us,” he said. “There are no prisoners. The other [mutineers] fled and the regular forces now occupy the FIGN.”

The army commander said he estimated the total number of rebel FIGN members was no more than 30.

The rebel security forces set up mobile checkpoints around their base at Fort Duchesne on Wednesday.

The mutineers accuse their former boss General Bruno Razafindrakoto of keeping for himself more than $200 000 paid to him by former president Ravalomanana.

Another political ingredient in Thursday’s skirmish was that the rebel FIGN apparently intended to protect a planned demonstration by a pro-Ravalomanana movement.

Since taking power, Rajoelina has failed to secure international backing and left the country in a state of institutional limbo.

International mediation efforts involving Ravalomanana and two other former presidents have so far failed.

The crisis has left Rajoelina increasingly isolated both internationally and at home, with the army increasingly reluctant to back him. — Sapa-AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations