African leaders boycott EU summit

04 Apr 2014 17:50pm
By Charles Tjatindi
BRUSSELS, 04 APR (NAMPA) - The recently concluded European Union (EU) - Africa Summit held here had to do without the influence of some of Africa's prominent leaders.
South African President Jacob Zuma and Malawi's Joyce Banda, who is also the current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), refused to attend the gathering, naming it a “disregard for the authority of African leaders”.
Both opted to send cabinet ministers to represent them at the summit.
Namibia had already agreed to send its Prime Minister, Hage Geingob to the summit.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe never made it to Brussels, despite earlier indicating his intention to attend the two-day deliberations for his country's sake.
Belgium, which had initially refused to grant the veteran leader a visa to enter the country on the grounds of his travel ban to the EU, nevertheless relented at the last minute and agreed to allow Mugabe to enter the country. However, Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe, was refused a visa, resulting in the veteran Zimbabwean leader deciding to shun the summit.
Another prominent absentee from the summit was Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, whom Brussels promised to arrest if he dares enter Belgium. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face prosecution, and the EU has vowed to detain him if he steps into any of its member countries.
His Foreign Affairs Minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, instead made the trip to Belgium on behalf on his president.
But African leaders at the summit raised serious concern with the manner in which the ICC is being run, which according to them, deliberately targets African leaders as opposed to those from other continents who are also signatories to the convention establishing the ICC.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan; Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Mozambique's Armando Emilio Guebuza; Zambia's Michael Sata and Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete were all in attendance at the summit.