President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Saturday joked that he died during his trip to Dubai, but that he had resurrected.
Mugabe looked jovial as he fielded questions from reporters at the airport in Harare.
“Yes, I was dead, it’s true that I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real,” he said.
Speaking in local Shona language, Mugabe said: “I had gone on a family matter to Dubai concerning one of my children.”
Mugabe’s whereabouts have been unclear since he left a regional summit early on Tuesday.
Flight data showed his plane went to Dubai after the original flight path indicated a course toward Asia. He has received treatment in Singapore in the past.
Mugabe’s health has been increasingly under the spotlight in recent years, particularly after he fell down a staircase after addressing supporters last year.
He has denied ill-health reports and vowed to stand for reelection in 2018, but recent weeks have seen a surge of demonstrations against his rule, which stretches back to Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
His spokesman had denied reports that the veteran strongman, the target of near-daily protests in recent weeks, was ill.
Reports that Mugabe’s health is declining have become common but he has often referred to himself as “fit as a fiddle”.
His absence had raised the level of uncertainly in this southern African country already in economic and political turmoil.
Frustration has been rising in Zimbabwe over a plummeting economy and allegations of government corruption.
Zimbabwe is struggling to pay salaries to soldiers, police and other public workers, adding to political tensions including within his ruling ZANU-PF party.