David Cameron in EU Africa summit dilemma after #mugabe invited

via David Cameron in EU Africa summit dilemma after Robert Mugabe invited – Telegraph By Aislinn Laing, and Peta Thornycroft  09 Feb 2014

Prime Minister faces dilemma over whether to attend EU Africa summit after Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe formally invited

David Cameron faces a dilemma over whether to attend a summit between Africa and the European Union after President Robert Mugabe was formally invited to attend.

The invitation comes despite Zimbabwe’s leader being officially banned from visiting any EU member state.

As prime minister, Gordon Brown boycotted an earlier EU-Africa summit attended by Mr Mugabe in Lisbon in 2007. He also ruled that no British minister would be present.

On Sunday, Downing Street declined to say whether Mr Cameron would stay away from the conference, due to take place in Brussels in April.

But the Foreign Office made clear that the UK did not approve of the EU invitation to the Zimbabwean president but said it was agreed in return for the renewal of EU sanctions on him which are due to expire at the end of this month.

“The UK would prefer not to see Mugabe at the Summit, but it was a necessary part of the EU agreement to renew the overall sanctions on Zimbabwe which we played a leading part in maintaining,” it said in a statement to the Telegraph.

“The UK government is absolutely clear: attendance at one EU meeting in Brussels does not change in any way the fact that Robert Mugabe is not, and will not be, permitted to travel to the UK.”

Kate Hoey, a Labour MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, urged the Prime Minister to boycott. “If he [Mr Mugabe] now is to be there, then I would call on our Prime Minister to follow the principled lead of his predecessor Gordon Brown,” she said.

Mr Mugabe, the oldest leader in Africa who turns 90 on Feb 21, was re-elected last year amid accusations of widespread vote rigging. He is accused of presiding over serious human rights abuses, claiming thousands of lives, during his 33-year rule.

The EU banned Mr Mugabe and a raft of his allies from visiting any member state in 2002. This measure also froze any assets they hold in EU banks. However, the travel ban does not prevent Mr Mugabe from attending international gatherings.

Aldo Dell’Ariccia, the EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, confirmed that Mr Mugabe would be welcome in Brussels. “President Mugabe is invited to the summit and I hope he will attend along with all the other leaders who have been invited,” he said.

The ambassador denied this was a softening of the EU’s attitude towards Mr Mugabe. “There are international laws that have to be respected and these make exceptions for heads of state that are on targeted measures to be allowed to attend summits,” he said.

In practice, the EU has taken a softer line towards Mr Mugabe since he established a coalition government in 2009. This process continued after he won last year’s election, which was comparatively free of violence, and introduced a new constitution.

Last year, EU foreign ministers suspended from the list of Zimbabweans subjected to travel bans and asset freezes the names of 81 ministers and officials.

It also lifted restrictions on the state company handling exports from Zimbabwe’s rich diamond fields. Only Mr Mugabe is still on the list, along with his wife, Grace, and eight generals and security officials.

The United States, by contrast, continues to impose targeted sanctions on a large number of ministers, officials and state companies. America has made clear that Mr Mugabe will not be welcome at an African Leaders’ Summit due to be hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington later this year.

Britain wants to boost trade and investment with Africa, which now has the world’s youngest population and some of its fastest-growing economies. The West also wants to counter Chinese influence on the continent.

But any dealings with Mr Mugabe would be politically poisonous for Mr Cameron. No senior British minister has met him since 2004, when Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, shook Mr Mugabe’s hand on the sidelines of a United Nations summit. Mr Straw later said that he had failed to recognise Zimbabwe’s leader.


  • comment-avatar
    Reverend 8 years ago

    David Cameron, stand up and be counted! Do NOT attend the summit for the sake of the opressed in Zimbabwe. Whoever invited Mugabe should be ashamed of himself, a man of no fiber.

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    Expat 8 years ago

    I think this meeting should go ahead,i do belive that David Cameron is aware of its implications, however the unfavoured reresentation from Zimbabwe will have nothing but poison Spewing from his mouth. that will remind those soft C**k europeans the reason they instigated sanctions on this guy in the first place!!

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Zimbabwe is a very small spot on the British radar. Barely worth consideration.

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    Khaya'bonina 8 years ago

    Our colonisers will always have excuses like Cameroon , the summit is about Africa as a whole , Cameroon must go there and face Mugabe and tell him the truth , Mugabe is not Zimbabwe himself , his presence would be like a drop of water into an ocean i don’t see any poison which goes to Cameroon . Mugabe is only going there to sleep , Cameroon must not be coward .

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    This is just a gathering of leaders of governments in Africa and in Europe. I do not see individual countries benefiting much as meaningful agreements that result in trade are between individual countries. If Mugabe needs Britain truly, he must just do so through the effective means. This partying business by government leaders will not result in us the civil servants getting our salary increments. It wont help to create effective job creation to bring back millions of our people scattered in various countries. so it is just talk.

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    rukodo 8 years ago

    I think most people do not understand The Zimbabwean politics and how the British Illegal sanctions are affecting the Zimbabwean populace. These sanctions have created psychological factors where all people are now becoming corrupt. If these sanctions were to be removed you will see real improvement in The Zimbabwean situation.Most Africans lie that they are sympathizers of Zimbabwe, when in fact you enjoy the problems which Zimbabweans are facing. As Zimbabweans we will never forgive the British people whose sanctions have forced us to lack adequate healthcare and education. The British know that Mugabe is a powerful man who speaks the truth that is the why they fear him to the case of having a dilemma.Its a shame for the whole British government. If you are a UK citizen the blood of all those children who died of cholera in Zim is on your hands

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      Expat 8 years ago

      how may i ask has personal sanctions against individuals with in government affected health care and education when the british Government have made huge, in fact probably the largest contribution by way of grants and social contributions to the people of Zimbabwe. i am not flying their flag however get the facts correct the fact that these areas along with many other areas of zimbabwes economy are struggling is because of offical government policy and unlike the general populace forign investment (whose bussiness pays huge tax contributions towards running of gvt departments including health care and education ) are packing up and leaving leaving zimbabwe with MORE UNEMPLOYMENT, LESS TAX AND MORE PROBLEMS! basicly zimbabwes government has brought this on themselves and now conveniently blames sanctions!

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    chikhangalapfula MOSES SHOKO. 8 years ago

    leaders should do what is, if they be gods on earth, lets meet discuss issues.
    mr priminister and mr president,
    you are under1 god.
    bring light into darkness; thank u.

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    Rukodo ugly face a kasukuvere look alike. Let mugarbage go and fart in his adult pampers. He will be avoided like the bubonic plague or ebola. Heard there’s gonna be a citizens arrest to drag him to icc criminal court at hague

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    europe,america,probably number1 or /highest,corrupters in earth.
    dont just talk have facts,
    charity begins at home.
    if europe stops corruption first, then thy can lecture, zimbabwe.
    no small sin or big sin on earch.
    jesus christ my father, marry mother. i am a holy god. amen.