Zim to challenge EU travel ban
Harare - Zimbabwe's attorney general told a state-owned newspaper on Wednesday that he plans to file suit against the European Union to challenge a travel ban affecting the country's president and senior officials.
"We are finalising drafting of the court papers and we hope to complete that exercise in two weeks time. We hope to file the papers during the course of this month," Johannes Tomana, Zimbabwe's chief lawyer, told the state-owned daily The Herald.
In September, Tomana sent a letter to Brussels asking under what grounds the travel ban - which effects President Robert Mugabe and senior members of his party - had been imposed.
Tomana's letter also contained an ultimatum directed at EU officials: explain why they imposed travel restrictions or face a lawsuit at the General Court of the European Court of Justice.
The EU replied to the letter in a fax sent from Brussels. But the EU's representative in Harare would not divulge the letter's contents, saying the matter is in Tomana's hands.
During his visit to Zimbabwe in September, the EU's chief diplomat for Africa, Nicholas Westcott, told journalists in Zimbabwe that the European bloc was ready for a legal wrangle with Harare.
The EU imposed travel sanctions on Mugabe and his loyalists in 2002, following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses by his Zanu PF party.
There are 163 Zimbabweans on the EU sanctions list. Mugabe has argued that travel restrictions and sanctions harm Zimbabwe's economy.
Mugabe and his officials also face a similar travel ban in the United States.
But because the US and EU travel bans contain language allowing heads of state to attend events held at the United Nations and in Vatican City, Mugabe and others have visited the EU and the US several times since the ban was issued in 2002.