Will Mugabe support Ping over SA minister?

2012-01-14 14:30

Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has implored Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to back former Gabonese foreign minister Jean Ping for the chair of the African Union (AU) Commission.

Mbasogo jetted into Harare this week allegedly to canvass for Ping, who has been the chairperson of the AU commission since 2008, ahead of South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

South Africa, the mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis, is sponsoring the candidature of Dlamini-Zuma for the powerful continental post as the tenure of Ping expires at this month’s summit of the AU slated for Addis Ababa.

But diplomatic sources said the Equatorial Guinea president specifically visited Mugabe to lobby for Ping among other Southern African Development Community leaders.

Mugabe’s friendship with Mbasogo dates back to 2000 when Zimbabwe intelligence intercepted Simon Mann and his band of mercenaries who were on their way to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Mann spent nearly five years in a Zimbabwe prison before being extradited to Equatorial Guinea.

Since then Mbasogo has been indebted to Mugabe for saving his skin.

During his two-day visit to Harare this week, the Equatorial leader thanked Mugabe for averting the coup.

He also helped Zimbabwe with fuel at the height of fuel shortages during the economic meltdown in 2007.

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