Top Madagascar politician dies of gunshot wounds

A veteran political figure in Madagascar has died of gunshot wounds at his home, police said on Friday, after posting about personal problems on social media.

Mamy Rakotoarivelo, a former parliament speaker and a key figure in talks that resolved a political crisis that dogged the country in the early 2000s, was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

In recent days he had posted details of problems with his finances and love life to his personal Facebook account.

A firearm was recovered from the scene, officers said in a statement.

Rakotoarivelo served as a chief of staff to former president Marc Ravalomanana and was instrumental in resolving a dispute with the outgoing administration of Didier Ratsiraka following the contested 2001 election.

The Indian Ocean island nation was paralysed by protests and violence following the disputed poll results which badly divided the country.

In January 2002 Ravalomanana, a businessman and mayor of the capital Antananarivo, sent his supporters into the streets claiming victory in the first round of presidential elections held in December 2001.

Ravalomanana refused to organise a second round of voting, while Ratsiraka declined to concede defeat, plunging the country into seven months of violence.

The impasse split the nation in two — with two capitals, two governments, and a divided army — until Ravalomanana was officially proclaimed president in April 2002 and sworn in on May 6, with Ratsiraka still disputing the result.

Ratsiraka finally went into exile in France for 11 years.

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