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Zimbabwean-German Diplomatic Row Brews Over Alleged Visa Denials

The German government said Friday that it was looking into claims by Harare that two legislators of Zimbabwe's ruling party were denied visas to join a Wiesbaden forum of lawmakers from Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and the European Union.

Press officer Michael Ebel of the German Foreign Office said officials in Berlin were looking up visa application reference numbers published today by the state-controlled Herald newspaper in Harare and presented as evidence senators Forbes Magadu and Godfrey Chipare of the ruling ZANU-PF PARTY were denied German visas.

Participation by Zimbabwe's delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Wiesbaden was called off late last week due to the alleged denial of visas, though Sen. Clarissa Muchengeti and opposition legislator Nelson Chamisa received theirs.

With the ACP-EU assembly formally opening Saturday, Zimbabwean Ambassador to Belgium Gift Punungwe on Friday submitted a draft resolution prepared by Harare's delegation and concerning Britain's alleged failure to keep a funding promise.

Punungwe told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the alleged British failure to make good on a commitment to fund Zimbabwe's controversial land reform program had been a root cause of the country's present economic woes.

But analyst Farai Maguwu challenged these assertions, saying in an interview that the Zimbabwean government's claim Germany denied visas in violation of the Cotonou Agreement is unfounded as Harare continues to violate its own citizens' rights.

The Cotonou Agreement was signed by the African, Caribbean and Pacific states and the European Union in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin. The treaty set a partnership in the reduction of poverty and the integration of ACP countries into the world economy.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...