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Iran and Zimbabwe: birds of feathers?

ZIMBABWE-IRAN/Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe backs Iran’s controversial nuclear programme and has accused the West of seeking to punish the two countries for asserting their independence.

“Be also assured, comrade president, of Zimbabwe’s continuous support of Iran’s just cause on the nuclear issue,” Mugabe told Ahmadinejad at a banquet he hosted for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Harare on Thursday for a two-day visit..

Iran faces a possible new round of United Nations sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Zimbabwe itself escaped U.N sanctions in 2008 after Mugabe’s re-election in a second round poll marred by political violence, which forced his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out despite outpolling Mugabe in the first round voting.

The Iranian president’s visit has widened rifts within the coalition government, with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party describing Mugabe’s decision to invite Ahmadinejad as a “collosal political scandal”.

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