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Madagascar Airport Closed as Opposition Leader Plans Return


Madagascar has closed an airport in the eastern part of the island, blocking the planned return of an exiled opposition leader.

Aviation officials announced that the airport in Tamatave was closed Saturday, and will re-open in three months.

Hours earlier, police fired tear gas to disperse supporters of former Deputy Prime Minister Pierrot Rajaonarivelo. They had gathered at the airport.

Mr. Rajaonarivelo was expected to return to the Indian Ocean island for a party meeting to open today in Tamatave.

Officials said he was subject to arrest, after being sentenced to 15 years in prison for misuse of public funds while in office.

U.S. officials in Madagascar warned American travelers about possible demonstrations linked to the meeting and Rajaonarivelo's planned return.

The opposition leader is seen as a key challenger to President Marc Ravalomanana in December elections.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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