Madagascar turns away exiled ex- prez | world | Hindustan Times
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Madagascar turns away exiled ex- prez

world Updated: Jan 23, 2012 00:52 IST
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Madagascar's ousted president has tried to end his exile in South Africa but his commercial plane was forced to turn back mid-flight when the landing was blocked by the populist former disc jockey who toppled him.

Marc Ravalomanana has been exiled from the Indian Ocean island since 2009. Thousands of Ravalomanana supporters awaited his return at the capital's airport on Saturday.

But a government minister said Andry Rajoelina, the politician who toppled Ravalomanana with military backing, had issued a notice closing the country's main airports to prevent the former leader's return. Security forces fired teargas to force the last of the crowds to retreat.

Ravalomanana at first refused to leave the plane after it landed back in Johannesburg but after more than two hours he agreed to be escorted to a hotel in Pretoria by South African government officials.

Ravalomanana, his wife, two aides and journalists travelled on the commercial flight along with passengers not linked to the former leader. Ravalomanana said he wanted to return to Madagascar to work for peace and democracy.