France refuses Mugabe ally visa to travel to Belgium

15:15, April 01, 2010      

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France has denied a key ally of President Robert Mugabe a visa to attend a Zimbabwe-European Union re-engagement meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Herald reported on Wednesday.

France is in charge of granting Belgian visas to Zimbabweans.

The paper reported that the French Embassy in Harare refused to give Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa the visa because he was on a list of people barred from travelling to the EU.

Instead, the Embassy advised the minister to get his visa from South Africa.

"France represents Belgium for the granting of visas for Zimbabweans but as Mr Chinamasa is on the EU travel ban list, it is only Belgium itself which can decide whether it accepts the visa or not for the minister," Charge d'Affaires at the embassy Dietmar Peprausch said.

Chinamasa is part of the six-member Zimbabwean inter- ministerial committee that has been tasked to re-engage the EU with a view to normalize relations between the two.

This is the second time that the minister has had problems in attending the talks with the EU over visa problems.

Last year, the minister only got his visa to attend the same meeting in Brussels at the last minute after the European Union Commission delegation in Harare intervened.

This year's talks, initially scheduled to start this week, have been deferred to April 21.

Dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU to normalize relations started soon after the formation of the inclusive government in Zimbabwe last February but little progress has been made to date.

Zimbabwe is blaming the EU for not responding positively to its overtures to speed up the dialogue process.

In February this year, the EU extended sanctions against Mugabe and his allies for another year citing lack of progress in the full implementation of a power-sharing pact that Mugabe signed with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in 2008.

Source: Xinhua


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