HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa landed in Ethiopia on Friday afternoon to attend an African Union summit – his 27th foreign trip since taking power at the end of November 2017.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who flew into Harare on Friday morning after making a medical trip to South Africa late Wednesday, is Acting President.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was not at the airport after being flown to India, where he is being treated for an undisclosed ailment.

Mnangagwa, under pressure at home and internationally over a brutal military crackdown that followed widespread protests against fuel price increases last month, smoothed his path by sending envoys to meet nearly a dozen African leaders to pre-empt any direct criticism at the summit.

He sent envoys to Egypt, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa, among other countries, to present his government’s handling of the deadly protests, which he blames on opposition rivals and hostile Western countries. Rights groups say at least 17 people have died to date in the ongoing operation, with over 800 arrested.

The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union is being held under the theme: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa.”