Troubled Madagascar jails presidential candidate
A Madagascar court has jailed a presidential candidate ahead of a troubled lead up to elections tentatively set for August and hoped to restore constitutional rule.
Mr Laza Razafiarison, a former World Bank analyst, was arrested by the police in Antananarivo on Tuesday morning,
He appeared in court Wednesday on a charge of holding an unauthorised rally in the capital, which police broke up with tear gas.
The court ordered his detention at the Antanimora prison for public disorder, alongside seven others.
Other presidential candidates have been banned from visiting him.
Mr Razafiarison, an underdog, is one of the 41 candidates hoping to become the next leader of the island's 22 million people.
He has called for the immediate departure of President Andry Rajoelina, saying this would unlock the country's prevailing political crisis.
The candidate also called for immediate elections, accusing the president of deliberately extending the crisis, sparked by a military-backed coup in 2009.
"I'm not fighting for a post in the transitional government, I'm advocating to save Madagascar. That's my mission," Mr Razafiarison told news agency AFP.
His supporters clashed with police on Monday and Tuesday, leading to his violent arrest.
Mr Razafiarison was publicly ill-treated before being placed in custody at a police station awaiting his court appearance.
The arrest has been strongly condemned.
Officials said Mr Razafiarison would re-appear before the court on Friday.
Regional mediators have urged Mr Rajoelina and two other candidates, former leader Dider Ratsiraka and former first lady Lalao Ravalomanana, to stand down but all have so far refused, casting a cloud on the elections.