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Mugabe back in Zimbabwe after overseas absence, health fears

03 September 2016, 10:37

Harare - Zimbabwe's 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe has arrived home after an overseas absence that led to concerns over a health crisis, with witnesses saying he joked about the latest rumours of his death.

The world's oldest head of state returned to the capital, Harare, on Saturday morning after leaving a regional summit early on Tuesday. Flight data showed his plane went to Dubai after the original flight path indicated a course toward Asia. Mugabe has received treatment in Singapore in the past.

His spokesperson had denied reports that Mugabe, the target of near-daily protests in recent weeks, was ill.

Witnesses at the airport said the president looked cheerful and told people he had been away attending to family matters. Mugabe was expected to address a youth meeting at his ruling party's headquarters later on Saturday.

His absence had raised the level of uncertainly in this southern African country already in economic and political turmoil. Frustration has been rising in Zimbabwe over a plummeting economy and allegations of government corruption.

Police on Thursday banned protests in the capital for two weeks, on the eve of a demonstration planned by a newly formed coalition of opposition groups.

Mugabe has been in power since 1980, and many in Zimbabwe have known no other leader in their lifetime. He has said he would run again in elections in 2018.

Recently, his wife, Grace, said Mugabe would rule from the grave.

- AP


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