Portugal May Break Ban, Invite Mugabe

New head of EU wants Africans at upcoming summit
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2007 5:58 AM CDT
A portrait of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and the country's flag are paraded during independence celebrations in Harare, Wednesday, April 27, 2007. President Robert Mugabe declared he had overcome...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 7 more images

(Newser) – Portugal has provoked a firestorm by proposing to invite Robert Mugabe to an upcoming summit of European and African nations, despite an EU ban prohibiting the Zimbabwean dictator from traveling on the Continent. The African Union insists all its members be treated equally, and EU refusal to invite Mugabe at the last such summit in 2003 torpedoed the proceedings before they began.

Portugal has made the December conference its top priority of its six-month EU presidency and says the ban allows the despot into Europe to discuss human rights issues. German chancellor Angela Merkel supports the invitation; the British are fiercely opposed. Resistance would subside, the Guardian notes, if Mugabe renounced plans to be reelected next year. (Read more European Union stories.)