Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulates Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa after disputed vote

Beijing has close economic and diplomatic ties with Harare, which it has been keen to maintain since former leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in November

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 6:10pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping has congratulated Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as president of Zimbabwe, Xinhua reported on Tuesday, offering support after the African nation’s opposition cried foul.

Mnangagwa has urged Zimbabweans to unite after he was declared the first elected head of state since Robert Mugabe’s removal from power, but the opposition leader has insisted he won and has pledged to challenge the result.

China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe, which it has been keen to maintain after Mugabe’s ouster in November in a de facto coup that brought his former ally Mnangagwa to power.

“In a congratulatory message dated Sunday, Xi expressed his wishes that the Zimbabwean government and people would make more achievements in national development under Mnangagwa’s leadership,” the Xinhua report said.

Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly wins Zimbabwe’s presidential election, but opposition decries ‘fake’ result

Xi expects to meet Mnangagwa next month when he visits Beijing for a summit of Chinese and African leaders, it said.

“Xi said he hoped the meeting with Mnangagwa in Beijing could push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between the two countries.”

On Monday, Zimbabwe’s main opposition said security forces were abducting its members in night raids to intimidate the party and stop it challenging Mnangagwa’s win.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has rejected Mnangagwa’s victory and has promised to use legal and constitutional means to challenge the outcome.

Opposition ‘has won’ Zimbabwe election, party official claims

Mnangagwa visited Beijing in April, when he said Zimbabwe should be a key destination for Chinese investment.

In a meeting with Xi during the trip, he played up his personal ties to the country, which date back to the 1960s and Zimbabwe’s struggle for liberation. He was quoted as saying that his memories of receiving military and ideological training in China as one Zimbabwe’s top guerilla leaders at the time were still “fresh”.

The two leaders said they were keen to “upgrade” China-Zimbabwe relations into a “full-scale strategic cooperative partnership”.