Soldier: I was paid $10,000 to topple Marc Ravalomanana By RIVONALA RAZAFISON in Antananarivo | Thursday, January 6   2011 at  10:04

In the dock: Col Charles Andrianasoavina claims Madagascar's army was paid to carry out the 2009 coup. RIVONALA RAZAFISON | AFRICA REVIEW 

A top Malagasy army man has sensationally claimed he was paid $10,000 to instigate the March 2009 coup that ushered in current leader Andry Rajoelina.

Col Charles Andrianasoavina, in court with three other generals to answer charges over another mutiny on November 17, 2010, lodged a mea culpa and in effect admitted culpability in the 2009 events that deposed elected President Marc Ravalomanana and sparked a political crisis that has plagued the country to date.

Col Andrianasoavina said he had received the money from a highly-placed person, adding that billions of the national currency had been circulated to pay soldiers to remove Mr Ravalomanana.

He claimed the money came from national politicians and foreign contributors with the complicity of highly-placed persons in the army, but he failed to reveal any names.

Col Andrianasoavina is seen as the main architect of the 2009 coup that was unanimously condemned by the international community. On March 8, 2009 the Antananarivo military camp called CAPSAT mutinied, urged on by then-commandant Andrianasoavina and Colonels (at the time) Noël Rakotonandrasana and André Ndriarijaona.

Other camps then followed, speeding up the departure of the incumbent President in favour of Mr Rajoelina, a former disc jockey.

Gross violations

Colonels Rakotonandrasana and Ndriarijaona were then respectively appointed minister of National Defence and commander-in-chief of the army after the takeover.

Col Andrianasoavina came in for different high state positions, including co-director of the Special Intervention Force (FIS), an armed wing of the High Authority of Transition (HAT) chaired by Mr Rajoelina.

International NGOs such as Amnesty International and ambassadors in Madagascar called for the dissolution of the force citing its extensive use of violence and gross human rights violations.

Col Andrianasoavina was also named the boss of the mining sector, parallel to another position within the national water and electricity company JIRAMA as administrator.

Mr Rajoelina also promoted Andrianasoavina to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonels Rakotonandrasana and Ndriarijaona to generals.

But the fallout was swift as Col Andrianasoavina was relieved of his functions following heated disputes with top HAT leaders.

Last November 17, Col Andrianasoavina and about 20 other generals and other top-ranking officers announced they had dissolved all transitional institutions of Madagascar and formed a Military Committee for the National Rescue (CMSP).

The declaration was immediately understood as a coup, and was swiftly put down four days later. Since then, Col Andrianasoavina and his colleagues have been imprisoned in the well-protected jail of Tsiafahy, located in the suburb of the capital, Antananarivo.

Going by its start, the trial promises to be a riveting one.