Mugabe back in Zimbabwe

2012-01-09 19:31

Harare - Africa's longest-ruling leader, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema, arrived in Harare on Monday for a previously unannounced state visit, state media said.

"President Teodoro Obiang Nguema arrived in the country at around 11:30 this morning (09:30 GMT). He was met by the acting minister of foreign affairs Nicholas Goche," state radio said.

Obiang's visit was kept under wraps until the last minute, and independent media were not informed of the trip.

"Comrade Nguema" will meet with President Robert Mugabe later on Monday, the radio said.

Obiang took power in Equatorial Guinea in a 1979 coup, while Mugabe is Africa's third-longest-serving leader, having ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.

The two countries strengthened ties in 2004, when Zimbabwean police arrested British mercenary Simon Mann and 69 others who were apparently en route to join a coup attempt against Obiang's government in the west African country.

Zimbabwe extradited Mann to Equatorial Guinea in 2007. He was sentenced to 34 years in prison but was pardoned in 2009.

Since 2004, Obiang has visited Harare and invited Zimbabwean business leaders to visit the capital Malabo.

The visits have generated talk of an oil deal between struggling Zimbabwe and petroleum-rich Equatorial Guinea, but none has been signed yet.

Mugabe himself arrived home on Monday after a vacation in Asia.

He had missed the weekend celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the ANC, despite the party earlier saying that he would attend.

After Obiang landed, his heavily guarded entourage went to a local hotel.

The visit follows Obiang's trip to Angola in November, when he met with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who assumed office just weeks after Obiang, in September 1979.

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