Madagascar arrests general behind failed coup

Madagascar police acting on a tip raided a hotel room in the capital and captured the fugitive army general who led a failed coup attempt, officials said Wednesday.

Minister for Public Security Lucien Victor Razakarinina said General Randrianafidisoa, who uses one name only and is known as Gen. Fidy, was arrested on Tuesday evening in Antananarivo. He had been staying at the hotel with his wife and son, Razakarinina said.

"There were 15 people from the security services involved in the arrest, and there was no violence when we captured him because he was completely surprised," he said.

Razakarinina said a number of weapons were found in the general's room including three AK-47s. He said Randrianafidisoa would be questioned for 48 hours before being taken to court to be charged.

A US$50,000 (Ђ37,000) reward had been offered for information or assistance leading to the Randrianafidisoa's arrest. Razakarinina said the reward would be split between the 15 security officers involved in the arrest and one civilian who had informed them of the Randrianafidisoa's whereabouts.

Randrianafidisoa had been sought since failing to garner much support for his coup attempt two weeks ahead of Dec. 3 presidential elections, reports AP.

A government soldier was left dead during fighting between the army and Randrianafidisoa's supporters after he called for the military to overthrow President Marc Ravalomanana on Nov. 17. Ravalomanana was re-elected Dec. 3.

Randrianafidisoa's application to be a candidate in the election had been refused after the Constitutional High Court said he had failed to pay a required deposit.

Wednesday, the court rejected a complaint by presidential candidate Roland Ratsiraka, who came in third, that vote counting had been inaccurate.

The world's fourth-largest island and its largest vanilla producer, Madagascar is one of the world's poorest countries with 70 percent of the island's 17 million people living on less than US$1 (less than Ђ1) a day.

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