Robert Mugabe to attend EU summit

BRUSSELS – Robert Mugabe will attend a high-profile EU-Africa summit despite a travel ban on the Zimbabwe President.

Mr Mugabe will join senior EU political figures, including European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and African Heads of State, at the gathering in Tripoli, Libya on November 29-30.

Amongst the issues to be discussed will be ‘good governance’.

Mr Mugabe, 86, and his aides are currently subject to travel bans and asset freezes in the European Union and the United States who accuse his regime of denials of basic freedoms and his presence at the summit has been condemned as "appalling". 

In 2002, the EU imposed targeted sanctions, including travel bans to EU territory and an arms embargo, on Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party in direct response to the deterioration in the human rights and political climate of the country. Last year, these were extended for another 12 months although Mr Van Rompuy recently said the EU was ready to consider "fresh measures".

But the attendance of the 86-year-old dictator who has been accused of jailing and beating dissenters, threatens to overshadow the summit which will also focus on economic growth, investments and job creation.

UK Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, who has been personally banned by Mr Mugabe from entering Zimbabwe, said the EU should have pressed for Mr Mugabe to be banned from the summit.

He said, "Mugabe has continued to trample on the rights of Zimbabwe’s people, showed scant regard for the political agreement that he made with Morgan Tsvangirai, and has continued his global travels."

"Its not surprising so little progress has been made in bringing about change in countries like Zimbabwe. The African states receive such garbled signals from Brussels."

Relations between the EU and Zimbabwe have soured over the past decade with Mr Mugabe accusing the 27-member bloc of agitating for regime change through the imposition of sanctions and backing the main MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirai. – Telegraph