Zimbabwe

John Paul II beatification heavenly: Mugabe

2011-05-02 17:39

Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Monday described the late pope John Paul II's beatification as "absolutely heavenly" after braving a European travel ban to attend the ceremony in Rome.

"It was fabulous, absolutely heavenly," Mugabe told journalists in Harare on his return from the Sunday ceremony at the Vatican.

"It was right that the spiritual honour be given to pope John Paul II."

However, the 87-year-old veteran leader lamented the barring of a senior state television journalist Reuben Barwe from travelling with the Zimbabwe delegation.

Barwe is among those banned under the EU travel embargo.

"I was surprised and shocked that on this holy trip a decision was made to bar one of our journalists, said Mugabe.

Mugabe, a Roman Catholic who has been widely condemned for human rights abuses, also attended John Paul II's funeral in 2005 despite the 2002 travel ban. That visit drew controversy, after Britain's Prince Charles shook hands with him.

Mugabe has been barred from travelling to the European Union for the last decade, under a ban imposed over concerns about vote rigging and human rights abuses.

The Vatican is a sovereign state that is not part of the European Union, although to attend the ceremony Mugabe had to transit through the Italian capital of Rome.

Travelling under United Nations auspices, Mugabe also came to Rome in 2008 for a summit of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

- AFP

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  pope john paul ii  |  vatican city  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa
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