Soldiers arrest ousted Ravalomanana's rival PM
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The rival prime minister appointed by Madagascar's ousted president, Marc Ravalomanana, has been arrested by troops loyal to the island's new leader. Andry Rajoelina took power with army support in March as Ravalomanana fled the capital.
AFP - The prime minister appointed by Madagascar's ousted president Marc Ravalomanana was arrested Wednesday by soldiers loyal to the island's new leader.
A group of around 20 soldiers, all armed and some hooded, stormed the Carlton hotel in central Antananarivo where Manandafy Rakotonirina had set up his base to challenge the authority of Andry Rajoelina.
"We are here to arrest Manandafy," one of the military officers in charge of the operation told reporters on the scene.
Former Madagascan opposition leader Rajoelina ousted the Indian Ocean island's elected president Ravalomanana with army backing on March 17.
Ravalomanana has recently upped his counter-offensive from exile, claiming to still be the island's only legitimate leader despite resigning and forming a parallel government to challenge Rajoelina's administration.
On Tuesday, the rival prime minister he appointed, Manandafy Rakotonirina, unveiled a partial government line-up including all the key portfolios which he said would be tasked with governing the country.
The commando led by officers known for their part in the military deployment that forced Ravalomanana out of power last month searched the hotel for an hour before eventually finding Rakotonirina hiding in a toilet.
Hotel staff told AFP that the soldiers produced a warrant and a spokeswoman at Rajoelina's office confirmed that one had indeed been issued.
"There has been an arrest warrant against Manandafy for a week. He is the mastermind of last week's violence.... This is also an operation launched in response to a threat on state security," Annick Rajaona said.
After initially allowing Ravalomanana loyalists to vent their disappointment, Rajoelina's regime has begun to tighten the screw, banning rallies and unleashing security forces on transgressors.
Two civilians were killed Friday when security forces cracked down on protesters defying the ban, bringing to four the number of dead in anti-Rajoelina demonstrations last week.
Rajoelina's High Transition Authority has blamed Ravalomanana loyalists for the violence and on Monday raided the offices of Madagascar's constitutional court in an operation aimed at rounding up remnants of the armed forces still loyal to Ravalomanana.