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EU refuses to budge on Grace Mugabe

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THE European Union yesterday dropped a bombshell on President Robert Mugabe after it refused to reconsider its earlier decision to deny a visa to the First Lady, Grace, to enable her to accompany her husband to the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium, next week.

STAFF REPORTER

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia told NewsDay that the bloc would not change its position regarding the First Lady’s visa.

“We have followed all our procedures in relation to granting visas to persons on the sanctions list and the decision is unanimous that her visa application be denied,” Dell’Ariccia said.

The EU envoy told some online publications that spouses had no role at the summit, suggesting First Lady Grace had no  business travelling to the EU-Africa Summit.

Mugabe last week threatened to mobilise other African Union and Sadc member states to boycott the summit if his wife was denied a travel visa to Belgium.

Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha said Zimbabwe’s decision on whether Mugabe would attend the EU-AU Summit now hinged on the position arrived at by the AU in relation to its earlier stance that all member states and their delegates should be invited.

“The permanent representatives of member states are currently meeting in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) over the matter and as a country we will stand guided by its (AU) decision,” Bimha said.

This is supposed to be the first EU-AU Summit in the last few years as Africa had been boycotting meetings organised by the group citing targeted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2000.

The EU last month removed most Zimbabwean officials and companies from its sanctions list, but retained Mugabe and his wife.

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