Authorities in Equatorial Guinea have hailed President Robert Mugabe as a savior of their nation for preventing a mercenary invasion of the country, the state radio said on Sunday, but ordinary Guineans gave the visiting Zimbabwean leader the cold shoulder.
In Zimbabwe, 68 suspected mercenaries began sentences in September in connection with an alleged plot to topple Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has been in power for 25 years. They were arrested at Harare airport while en route to Equatorial Guinea, where the trial of 19 other people alleged to be part of a conspiracy against Obiang was to resume later this month.
Obiang presented Mugabe with the Grand Collar of the Order of Independence "in recognition of the great action by the people and government of Zimbabwe and by Mugabe in person for the defence of the interests of the people" of Equatorial Guinea.
But despite official calls for citizens to turn out to greet Mugabe and the closing of stores and government offices, few members of the public attended the various manifestations of support for him.
Mugabe's three-day visit was scheduled to end on Sunday.
The president of the Parliament, Salomon Nguema Owono, called Mugabe "the savior of Equatorial Guinea" for having saved the country from a bloodbath by his "magnificent gesture of fraternity and African solidarity".
The mayor of Malabo, Isabel Eraul Ivina, presented Mugabe with the keys of the town and proclaimed him "dear child" of the nation. – Sapa-AFP
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