Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Madagascar: Mutinous colonel says he controls army

Madagascar: Mutinous colonel says he controls army

The leader of a group of mutinous soldiers declared himself head of Madagascar's army Wednesday, raising questions about the president's hold on power on this impoverished Indian Ocean island.
The army's support for President Marc Ravalomanana began to waver last month after security forces opened fire and killed at least 25 demonstrators accusing him of misspending funds and undermining democracy.
A group of soldiers led by Col. Andre Ndrianarijaona announced over the weekend they would no longer take orders from the president. Ndrianarijaona walked into the offices of the army chief of staff in the capital Wednesday and emerged after less than an hour to tell reporters that the chief had yielded his post.
Ndrianarijaona said Wednesday that his discussions with Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry had been "brotherly" and that "the army is behind me, united, so the solidarity of the army has been preserved."
There was no immediate comment from Ravalomanana or Rasolomahandry.
Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, then mayor of the capital, set off the turmoil by leading the protests against Ravalomanana and proposed that he take over. Ndrianarijaona did not say if he supported Rajoelina.
Ravalomanana is a wealthy businessman who started his political career as mayor of the capital. He ousted Rajoelina as Antananarivo's mayor as the crisis escalated.
The defense minister resigned last month to protest the deaths of the civilians, and her successor resigned Tuesday.
In a radio address Tuesday, the president sounded contrite and called for dialogue.
"I want to tell the people, humbly, what is really in my heart," he said. "If you think I have made mistakes, all men do, I take responsibility. You're angry. I understand your anger. But I am ready to listen to you, and I promise to find solutions to our crisis."
A three-day national conference aimed at resolving the crisis was to open Thursday. Rajoelina's faction said it would not participate.
Madagascar has long suffered from political infighting.
Ravalomanana, 59, clashed with former President Didier Ratsiraka when both claimed the presidency after a disputed December 2001 election. After low-level fighting split the country between two governments, two capitals and two presidents, Ratsiraka fled to France in June 2002.
Ravalomanana won re-election in 2006, though two opposition candidates tried to challenge the validity of that vote.
The nation of 20 million people is known for its rare wildlife and eco-tourism. It is also one of Africa's poorest nations, with more than half the population living on less than $1 per day.
The stakes here have risen since oil was discovered three years ago.


Updated : 2021-07-26 14:05 GMT+08:00