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Mugabe cancels Geneva trip in visa protest

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has cancelled a trip to Geneva to attend an international conference after his wife and five officials were refused visas.

The delegation had been due to attend the Telecom World 2011 meeting, at which top politicians and telecoms leaders are discussing the future of information communication technologies

Zimbabwe’s official Herald Online newspaper reported on Wednesday that the government had lodged a protest with the United Nations and the Swiss government over the matter.

Mugabe and his entourage have been subject to a European Union visa ban since 2002, over accusations of electoral fraud, violations of human rights and repression of the media.

However, this ban is not normally applied in the case of summits organised by the United Nations or its agencies, such as the Telecom meeting.

The Herald quoted a senior official of the Zimbabwean foreign ministry describing the Swiss decision as “a clear violation of the United Nations headquarters’ host agreement and Zimbabwe's sovereign right to determine the composition of its delegation".

The private NewsDay newspaper reported that the visas had eventually been granted, but that Mugabe had cancelled his trip in protest.

The Swiss embassy in Harare has not commented on the affair.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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