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EU, Africa Nations' Diplomatic Rift Widens

President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe
The European Union (EU) and Africa summit, which is set for Brussels next week, is hanging in the balance as the diplomatic rift between the two groups continues to widen.

The African Union’s peace and security council has advised the bloc not to attend the summit set for Brussels from April 2 to April 3 to protest the way Europe is allegedly holding the continent in “contempt by determining who is eligible to attend the meeting.”

African nations have expressed serious concern over the non-invitation of Sudan, Eritria and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and the EU’s refusal to grant a visa to Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe, who is on the EU sanctions list.

The African Union is also bitter that an invitation was extended to Egypt which is suspended by the continental bloc after an alleged military coup ended the reign of elected President Mohammed Morsi.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu Africa is united in its demands.

Zulu also reached EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe ambassador Aldo Dell'Ariccia, who insists the first lady’s situation is complicated since she’s on the EU sanctions list, adding the regional bloc is still waiting for a formal communication from Africa.

Political analyst Joey Mabenge, acting director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said Africa stands to lose more by boycotting the summit.

The EU-Africa summit has been drama-filled for several years now - in 2007, then British premier Gordon Brown boycotted the lisbon summit protesting Mr. Mugabe’s presence, accusing the Zimbabwean leader of violating people’s rights.

Plans for the Lisbon summit had been put on hold since 2003 as the EU and Africa wrangled over Mr. Mugabe’s attendance.

The first AU-EU summit was in Cairo in 2000, followed by Lisbon and Tripoli in 2010.