Attendance at EU-Africa summit strong

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REUTERS

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd R) looks for her seat while walking past Democratic Republic of Congo Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda N'tunga Mulongoa (L), Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso (2nd L) and Comoros' President Ikililou Dhoinine (R) during a European Union Africa summit in Brussels. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Brussels - At least 35 African heads of state and government are attending the EU-Africa summit which began in Brussels on Wednesday.

The partisan pro-Zanu-PF state media in Zimbabwe said yesterday that President Robert Mugabe, who snubbed the summit after his wife, Grace, was denied a visa, regarded the African leaders who are attending as “sell-outs”.

President Jacob Zuma pulled out of the summit on Sunday, complaining that the EU was treating African leaders as “subjects” by dictating who should attend the summit.

But Zimbabwe’s call for an African boycott seems to have failed. Reports from Brussels on the eve of the summit indicated that out of 54 African countries, 48 had confirmed participation in the 4th EU-Africa summit running today and tomorrow and 36 were represented at head of state and/or government level.

Mugabe, Zuma and Malawi leader Joyce Banda were confirmed as not attending the summit, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia said yesterday.

Banda is believed to be staying home to fight a critical election.

“So far things are moving smoothly and there is an inter-ministerial meeting going on right now (yesterday),” Dell’Ariccia said. “As of today (Tuesday), 48 African countries and 28 EU members had confirmed their participation.”

At least 36 African countries are represented at head of state and government level and others at ministerial level.

On the EU side, 22 countries are represented at head of state and government level and others are represented by foreign ministers. There are 58 heads of state and government out of 80 countries represented.

Other countries that did not attend either because their leaders were not invited, or they dropped out later, are Gambia, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Eritrea and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Egypt was invited even though suspended from the AU because of a military coup.

Zimbabwe media noted that Morocco, which is not an AU member and which colonised the SADR and has close ties to the EU and US, is attending the meeting.

Morocco pulled out of the AU in 1984 because it had accepted the SADR’s membership.

Last December the EU sent an invitation to Zimbabwe, but not to Mugabe as he was on the EU’s list of Zimbabweans who may not travel to the EU.

After the EU list was dramatically altered, leaving only Mugabe and his wife under travel and financial restrictions, the EU waived its visa ban on Mugabe, and sent him an invitation.

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