Robert Mugabe
Robert MugabeReuters

Zimbabwe's controversial president Robert Mugabe will boycott next week's EU-Africa summit in protest against the bloc's decision to deny his wife a travel visa to join him.

"We are no longer going to the EU-Africa. We disagreed on the composition of our delegation," said a source at the ministry, according to AFP.

The 90-year-old African leader was invited - despite being the target of restrictive measures by europe - to the fourth EU-Africa summit due to take place in the Belgium capital on Wednesday and Thursday (2-3 April). The main theme is bannered "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace".

The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, including travel bans on key government figures, in 2002 following a violent crackdown on the political opposition and the eviction of white farmers from agricultural land.

Some sanctions were lifted this year but the EU maintained the travel ban against Mugabe and his wife Grace for another year.

The outspoken Zimbabwean leader managed to get a European visa through his influence in the African Union, which threatened to boycott the summit if Mugabe were not invited.

But the EU ambassador to Harare, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, said that when Zimbabwe asked for a visa for Mugabe's wife "they were told she should apply through the normal channels".

"Since she is still under restrictive measures, there was no unanimous decision that she should get a visa," said Dell'Ariccia.

"The EU is just following its legal framework and there can't be any movement from that position."