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Mugabe in surprise visit to Malaysia

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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) inspects an honor guard during the official opening of the fourth session of the eight Parliament of Zimbabwe on October 6, 2016 in Harare. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on October 6 said parliament would tone down the controversial equity law which has been blamed for scaring off potential investors from the crisis-ridden economy. Mugabe also bemoaned the worsening economic woes that have sparked a spate of nationwide protests in recent months. PHOTO: Jekesai Njikizana / AFP

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (R) inspects an honor guard during the official opening of the fourth session of the eight Parliament of Zimbabwe on October 6, 2016 in Harare. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on October 6 said parliament would tone down the controversial equity law which has been blamed for scaring off potential investors from the crisis-ridden economy. Mugabe also bemoaned the worsening economic woes that have sparked a spate of nationwide protests in recent months. PHOTO: Jekesai Njikizana / AFP

Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old strongman Robert Mugabe will pay a surprise one-day working visit to Malaysia on Friday, the Southeast Asian country said.

Malaysia’s government said late Thursday Mugabe will have a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak but otherwise gave scant details on the purpose of the rare visit or the reason for the last-minute notification.

The foreign ministry said it was the Zimbabwean president’s first working visit to Malaysia since 2000, but he has previously visited Malaysia and Singapore for medical procedures.

Mugabe’s health has been increasingly under the spotlight in recent years.

He has denied reports of ill health and vowed to stand for reelection in 2018, but this year has seen demonstrations against his rule, which stretches back to Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

Mugabe and former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who stepped down in 2003, shared a close relationship and a love of anti-Western rhetoric in defence of the developing world.

A Malaysian foreign ministry spokesman said there would be no public events or media access during Mugabe’s visit.



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