Antananarivo (AFP) Nov 20, 2010
Madagascan forces put down a three-day mutiny Saturday when they stormed an army base and arrested dissident soldiers who had declared a coup on the troubled Indian Ocean island.
Gunshots and explosions rang out as around 400 armed soldiers launched the assault on the army barracks where the 20 or so renegades were holed up.
The dissident soldiers announced Wednesday that all government institutions were suspended and that a military council had taken charge.
But by Saturday afternoon hundreds of troops had descended on the camp.
"Loyal forces are storming into the camp to neutralise the mutineers," an officer at the scene told AFP. "The officers (mutineers) have given themselves up. It is some junior soldiers who are firing back."
Shortly afterwards the head of the country's senate defence council declared the operation at the camp about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the capital Antananarivo a success.
"The operation is over. They gave themselves up. It has ended without bloodshed," said Alain Ramaroson.
"We took the necessary measures. Their conditions were unacceptable. They wanted the dissolution of the transitonal" authority, he said.
Prime Minister Camille Vital confirmed that the mutiny was over, and no lives had been lost in the military operation.
"We couldn't not act when faced with this serious situation affecting the security of the state," said Vital in a statement.
"At the same time, these lost officers are our compatriots. As such we looked at all ways to avoid an armed confrontation," he said.
"The path chosen has paid off because this crisis ended with the surrender of the mutineers without bloodshed or loss of life," he said.
General Noel Rakotonandrasana, the leader of the rebel officers, had maintained earlier Saturday that they would not relent in their pursuit and vowed not to give in to the authorities.
The Madagascan regime, itself in power following a March 2009 coup, had launched talks with the mutineers on Thursday and army chief Andre Ndriarijaona called for calm.
The coup attempt however failed to attract a wider backing by the rest of the army and business in Antananarivo went on uninterrupted.
Madagascar has been mired in a political crisis since last year's coup when then opposition leader Andry Rajoelina toppled president Marc Ravalomanana with the army's support.
General Rakotonandrasana played a crucial role in that coup, following which he was named the armed forces minister. But he was later dismissed from the post on suspicion of plotting against the current regime.
The United States condemned the latest coup attempt and called for dialogue.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) said the mutiny illustrated just how little progress was being made in bringing an end to the political crisis.
"The political situation in Madagascar remains fragile and unresolved despite all the mediation attempts undertaken by SADC," the regional bloc's secretary general Tomaz Salomao said in a statement.
"Agreements reached have been dishonoured and violated on a number of occasions, notably by the high transition authority," he said, referring to the coup regime.
"Judging from the latest development, we are failing to make headway," Salomao said.
Rajoelina has been isolated by the international community and the African Union suspended Madagascar from the bloc and imposed sanctions on him and his backers for failing to honour accords to end the crisis.
Wednesday's coup attempt came as Madagascans were called to vote in a constitutional referendum which kick started a fresh bid by the coup regime to restore normality.
The referendum was part of an August agreement between the regime and scores of smaller parties, and which also calls for municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections.
But hundreds of demonstrators on Saturday protested against the electoral timetable which set municipal elections for December.
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Madagascar general says power take-over bid unchanged
Antananarivo (AFP) Nov 18, 2010
A Madagascar army general who declared a coup in the troubled Indian Ocean island said Thursday he would persist with his power grab despite failing to win the support of the army. Authorities went into talks with General Noel Rakotonandrasana to try and resolve the fresh crisis on the Indian Ocean island, which has been in a political limbo since Andry Rajoelina toppled president Marc Raval ... read more
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