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Equatorial Guinea: President Thanks Mugabe for Foiling 2004 Coup – posted by

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Kitsepile Nyathi

11 January 2012

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Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has thanked Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for thwarting a 2004 coup in the West African country.

During a surprise visit to Harare on Monday, President Nguema held six-hour private talks with President Mugabe who just returned from holiday in Asia.

Mr Nguema told journalists after the late night talks that he had visited Zimbabwe as part of his mandate as chairman of the African Union.

“It is my duty, as the AU chairman to meet continental leaders to discuss ways to carry Africa forward,” he said.

The Equatorial Guinea strongman, who is one of Africa’s longest serving rulers, also expressed his wish to strengthen ties with President Mugabe himself in power for the last three decades.

“Our countries enjoy strong links, which are deeply rooted much more after Zimbabwe assisted in foiling an attempted coup in our country in 2004 and that brought us closer,” President Nguema said.

“We would like to engage more in projects that would reinforce our relations.”

The two countries signed fuel and tourism deals, which collapsed because of the economic problems Zimbabwe was facing.

President Nguema last visited Zimbabwe in 2006 where he officially opened the Harare Agriculture Show.

The two leaders agreed to push for the opening of diplomatic missions to strengthen relations between Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.

President Nguema also dismissed rumours that the Zimbabwe crisis would be on the agenda of the AU summit later this month.

“The agenda for the AU summit has been set as per the provisions of the African Union Commission and it would focus on how African leaders would strengthen co-operation between their countries,” he said.

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President Mugabe wants to end a power sharing arrangement he entered into with his former foes in 2009 saying it has failed to work.

But critics say a credible election in Zimbabwe is impossible before major reforms and want African leaders to be more involved in finding a solution.

What happened

Arrested. In 2004, Zimbabwe arrested 70 mercenaries including Britain’s Simon Mann at the Harare International Airport soon after they arrived to pick up weapons. It was alleged the weapons were going to be used in a coup against President Nguema.

Extradited. Zimbabwe extradited Mann who went on to serve a jail term in Equatorial Guinea.

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