January 21, 2012 / 12:04 PM / 7 years ago

Plane carrying Madagascar's Ravalomanana diverts to Mozambique

Former Madagascar leader Marc Ravalomanana (R) holds up air tickets standing beside his wife Lalao during a media briefing in Johannesburg January 20, 2012. Ravalomanana will return to the Indian Ocean island "imminently", a statement released by his South African publicists firm said on Wednesday. Exiled in South Africa since rebel troops helped topple him in 2009, Ravalomanana has been sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the killings of demonstrators by elite troops in the run up to his removal. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - An aircraft flying Madagascar’s exiled former leader Marc Ravalomanana home on Saturday was diverted to Mozambique after the Malagasy authorities ordered the jet to turn around, a spokesman for Ravalomanana said.

“Madagascar civil aviation has turned the plane around and it’s been diverted to Pemba in Mozambique. It doesn’t have enough fuel to return all the way. It will refuel there and then return to Johannesburg,” a spokesman for the ousted president told Reuters in Johannesburg.

A Malagasy government minister confirmed that the plane, which earlier departed from South Africa, had turned around but said the reasons were unknown.

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