Mugabe invited to EU-Africa summit despite ban

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been invited to the European Union- Africa summit to be held in Brussels in April despite a travel ban against him.

According to state media, President Mugabe got his invitation last week, ending speculation about his attendance at the summit.

“The letter to invite the President has been received and has been given to His Excellency, the President.

“The letter came straight from Brussels,” the Sunday Mail said, quoting an unnamed government official.

The summit set for April 2 and 3 would be used to discuss strategic priorities between Africa and Europe.

Last week, Zimbabwe government officials had claimed that the AU had resolved that Africa would boycott the meeting if President Mugabe was not invited.

The soon to be 90 year-old leader’s presence at the 2007 summit held in Portugal caused controversy as the EU attempted to exclude him.

President Mugabe is now an AU vice chairperson.

The EU is due to review the travel embargo and asset freeze it imposed on his regime in 2002 for alleged electoral fraud and human rights violations.

Indications are that the sanctions would remain in place as most of the conditions that were laid out last year for the embargo to be lifted were not met.

Meanwhile, the United States has maintained that President Mugabe would be excluded from the highly anticipated US-Africa summit set for August.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton said the veteran ruler’s exclusion was “a very conscious decision.”

He said Washington would not be influenced by the EU decision to invite President Mugabe.

"Those are decisions made by the EU but not by the United States,” he said.

The US and the EU rejected last year’s elections that saw President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF winning resoundingly saying they were flawed.

The long time ruler says the sanctions were imposed as punishment for his controversial land reforms that displaced over 4 000 white commercial farmers.

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