The world’s heads of state gathering in Denmark for the climate change summit next week probably have little more than the effects of changing weather patterns on the mind.

But when Danish Queen Margrethe II has her gala dinner on Thursday night, she and her closest dinner guests will have much to talk about.

Purely because her dinner companion will be none other than Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

The gala dinner will see various heads of state gathering on the second last night of the conference to cement climate change promises. But according to the Danish tabloid, BT, a huge furor has erupted at Mugabe’s important placing at the dinner.

Seating for the dinner is arranged according to seniority, which means he will sit at the master table with the queen.

Royal House communications director Lene Balleby has told the newspaper that protocol demands that guests are placed according to seniority.

In an article titled “Margrethe is sitting next to a mass murderer”, the newspaper condemns the 85-year-old president, saying he is a man known for his crimes against his fellow countrymen and is condemned by the EU.

Mugabe is understood to have special entry arrangements to Denmark under the UN’s diplomatic immunity rules.

EU sanctions, however, forbid Mugabe and many of his government officials from travelling to member states.

Mugabe confirmed his attendance on November 20. So far at least 60 heads of state and government leaders are attending.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the most prominent guests.

The Danes are allegedly furious at the request, saying Mugabe should not be attending the event in the first place.

Balleby did not respond to media requests for comment at the time of going to print

(www.thestar.co.za , 20091205)

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