As Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe tries to destroy a power-sharing deal with his arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai, British Foreign Minister David Miliband calls for a Europe-wide denouncement of the actions on Monday.
Zimbabwe's president is no longer shaking hands with his arch-rival
"It is very important that a European signal goes out that we will play no part in supporting a power grab by the Mugabe regime," Miliband said upon his arrival in Luxembourg for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
During a meeting in the grand duchy, the 27 ministers issued a joint statement expressing "concern" at the lack of progress on the power sharing deal, signed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai on September 15. The deal came just as EU governments had been set to toughen their sactions, including the severing of ties with businesses linked to the 84-year-old president, which they postponed in light of the power sharing agreement.
By making a "unilateral decision" to form a new government, Mugabe is threatening to scuttle the agreement by retaining control of key ministries responsible for the army, police and secret police. The president was accused of using such forces to intimidate opposition supporters in the run up to the March presidential election.
Britain's Foreign Minister David Miliband
His opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Sunday that the power-sharing agreement would be "stillborn" as Mugabe has moved to retain control of the key Ministry of Home Affairs.
United response to power deadlock
In their joint statement, the ministers announced that "The Council stands ready to consider additional measures in case of continued deadlock in the implementation of the September 15 agreement." They also reiterated their concern at the "deteriorating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe" and noted that the European Commission was providing an additional 10 million euros (13.6 million dollars) in aid to the country.
"It is important," Miliband said, "(that) there is an international united response that says that the results of the elections need to be respected, and a power grab will not be respected."
The statement came as Mugabe swore in his two vice presidents Monday.