Belarusian President Lukashenko arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday, planning to hold talks with Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa aimed at strengthening “strong cooperation” between the two countries in several areas.Lukashenko arrived in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare for a two-day visit and was greeted by Mnangagwa and thousands of supporters of the ruling party.Both countries are close allies of Russia. Belarus backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Zimbabwe claimed neutrality and refused to condemn Moscow.
Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the two leaders planned to meet Tuesday. The meeting was aimed at strengthening “existing very good relations” in areas including politics, mining and agriculture.”The visit is historic because it is the first time President Lukashenko has visited a sub-Saharan African country,” the foreign ministry said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Lukashenko has been in power since 1994. He was re-elected in 2020 in a closely contested election that was widely condemned as a sham, leading to mass protests. The Associated Press stated that Lukashenko’s government violently suppressed the demonstrators, arresting more than 35,000 people and brutally beating thousands of others.Mnangagwa’s tenure was shorter. Mnangagwa took over as president after Mugabe was forced to resign in 2017 amid numerous human rights abuses and faced similar controversies.Opponents and the West have accused the two leaders of corrupting and restricting dissent and freedom of expression, claims both leaders deny.
(Parts of this article refer to reports from AFP and AP.)