Madagascar blocks return of ousted leader's wife

Madagascar has blocked the wife of ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana from returning from exile in South Africa to visit his sick mother, an official in the ex-president's party said Saturday.

Lalao Ravalomanana, who has been living with her husband in South Africa since his ouster in 2009, tried to board a flight operated by South African company Airlink, said Hanitra Razafimanatsoa, a senior official in Ravalomanana's party.

"The director general of Civil Aviation of Madagascar, Robert Razafy, sent two emails to Airlink advising the airline to deny Ms Lalao Ravalomanana to board," Razafimanatsoa told AFP.

Razafy denied the report, saying: "Ms Ravalomanana can fly anytime she wants."

Airlink said it could not confirm the incident.

In July last year, shortly after unsuccessful talks between her husband and his rival Andry Rajoelina in Seychelles, airport authorities denied Lalao Ravalomanana entry into Madagascar.

She was later deported and put on a flight to Thailand.

Rajoelina's office at the time described her attempted return as "provocative" and in violation of the resolution taken at the Seychelles talks.

Ravalomanana himself has been prevented on two occasions from returning home.

Madagascar was thrown into crisis in 2009 following Rajoelina's military-backed ouster of Ravalomanana.

The country is due to hold elections in May. Both leaders have said they will not run in the vote.