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Alyn Urges EU To Press For U-Turn Over 'Barbarous' Mugabe

The European Union is being urged by a Scottish MEP to pressure United Nations tourism chiefs into reversing their appointment of Robert Mugabe as an international envoy.

SNP Euro member Alyn Smith has written to EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Baroness Ashton asking her to formally protest against the nomination this week of the Zimbabwean President as a tourism leader.

Mugabe, who has gained notoriety as one of Africa’s most vicious tyrants, has been honoured as a “Leader for Tourism” by the Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).  A ceremony appointing him to the role along with his political ally Michael Sata, President of Zambia, took place at the Victoria Falls on Tuesday.

In his letter to Baroness Ashton, Alyn says he is looking for an assurance that she will write to UNWTO in Madrid protesting about the nomination and seeking its reversal.

He continues: “I would also ask for your assurance that the EU will neither recognise this appointment nor engage with Mr Mugabe in this or any other official role.”

Describing Mugabe’s elevation to the role as “bizarre, scandalous and disgraceful,” he continues in the letter: “It also makes absolutely no sense.

“As one of the world’s most barbarous dictators, Mr Mugabe has wrecked his own tourist industry and brought Zimbabwe to the edge of economic ruin. He consistently betrays human rights, has defied democracy and uses violence to hang on to power.

“To appoint him to this position seriously damages the credibility of the UN and helps to provide legitimacy to a regime which is one of the most oppressive in Africa and beyond. It also undermines efforts to promote genuine democracy in Zimbabwe.

“Mr Mugabe is not a global tourist leader. Indeed, as an international pariah, he is exactly the opposite.”

Scotland has a historic relationship with Zimbabwe and for years people here have been horrified at what Mugabe has done to the country, Alyn adds.

“Many of Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers are of Scottish origin and have relatives back at home. These farmers have been subjected to the full force of Mugabe’s poisonous eviction policies and many have been forced to flee to Zambia and beyond to try and make a living.

“Scotland has long had a warm and constructive relationship with the peoples and nations of Africa, forged by historic figures such as David Livingstone, which continues to this day.

“Scots see Mugabe for the tyrant and pariah he is and look forward to the time when he is ousted for good and the relationship between all the peoples of both countries can be restored.”