KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Oct 7 – 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.