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Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe

Updated: 2014-08-24 10:26

BEIJING - Invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe will pay a state visit to China on Aug 24-28.

The following is a profile of the 90-year-old president who has ruled Zimbabwe since the country's independence in 1980.

Mugabe was born in 1924 in a village about 80 km west of Salisbury (now the capital Harare) in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

After graduating with a host of college degrees, Mugabe started teaching in Zambia and Ghana in 1955.

During his stay in Ghana from 1958 to 1960, Mugabe was influenced and inspired by then Ghanian Prime Minister and pioneer of pan-Africanism Kwame Nkrumah.

In 1960, Mugabe returned to Southern Rhodesia and joined the National Democratic Party, which was later banned by the white authorities. In 1963, he joined the newly-formed Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

In 1963, he was arrested for "subversive speech" and released in 1974.

In 1977, Mugabe gained control of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and has been president and first secretary of party since then.

After Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, Mugabe was elected prime minister and stayed in this position until 1987, when the position of prime minister was abolished and Mugabe assumed the new office of executive president of Zimbabwe with additional powers. He was re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2013.

Mugabe's upcoming trip to China is his fifth official visit, with the four previous visits being in 1981, 1985, 1993 and 2005.

Mugabe also attended the opening ceremony of China's Kunming International Horticulture Expo in 1999, the Forum on Africa-China Cooperation in Beijing in 2006, and the events marking Zimbabwe Day at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.

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