Zimbabwe's rival parties announced at the African Union Summit on Sunday that they would form a new unity government. The EU has welcomed the decision but has said its sanctions on Harare would remain in place.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have agreed to give their unity government deal another try
The decision by Zimbabwe's longtime opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Friday to go into government with President Robert Mugabe Zanu-PF, ending the party's nearly five-month campaign for a more equitable power-sharing deal, was welcomed by the European Union late Sunday but the EU warned that it would judged on what actions it takes.
"I welcome the agreement reached by the Zimbabwean parties, in particular to establish the government of national unity," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a statement, adding that "the government of national unity will be judged by its actions."
"I call on all parties to comply in good faith with the agreement reached. Only in the context of an equitable political solution, the plight of the Zimbabwean people can be alleviated," he said.
The MDC's national council ratified the move to implement a September power-sharing accord signed by Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, despite previous misgivings within the party about the skewed nature of the deal.
Despite welcoming the deal, the EU refused to comment on calls from the African Union (AU) and continental giant South Africa called for the United States and Europe to lift sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's regime.
EU crackdown on Zimbabwean assets set to continue
Solana and the EU will wait before making a decision
EU foreign ministers last week tightened sanctions on Zimbabwe, freezing the assets of companies based in British tax havens for the first time and adding 26 more names of people close to the Mugabe regime or their families to a travel-ban list, bringing the number to 203.
The number of companies whose assets in Europe must be frozen was increased sharply from four to 40 and for the first time European-based firms are included.
According to EU sources, all 18 of the European company names added are based on British territory, including tax havens Jersey, the Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands.
A spokesman for the EU's Czech presidency said Sunday that any lifting of sanctions could only be decided by the ministers and recalled that their next meeting in Brussels is set for February 23.
The AU's executive council adopted a resolution ahead of the three-day African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa Sunday, calling for "the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe to help ease the humanitarian situation in the country."
AU calls on action to help Zimbabwe recover
The AU calls on international help to aid Zimbabwe
African Union head Jean Ping, when asked about sanctions levied by the United States and European Union, said: "I think that everybody today should help Zimbabwe to rebuild its economy, because an agreement has been reached."
Since disputed elections in March 2008, Zimbabwe's shattered economy has nosedived further. It has the world's highest inflation rate -- 231 million percent -- and is struggling with a cholera epidemic that has claimed some 3,000 lives.
Ping said: "Imagine that you don't help Zimbabwe, who will be blamed? Everybody is expecting that today, because Tsvangirai is going to lead the economy and everything, that the economy should recover. So if you don't do that, who will be blamed by the population?"
US, UK skeptical of unity agreement
Tsvangirai and Mugabe have been sparring for months
Commenting on the deal reached between Zanu PF and the MDC, US State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood said: "I've seen the reports about this agreement, but as you can understand, we are a bit skeptical. These types of things have been announced before. The key is always implementation."
An equally tempered reaction emerged from London, where British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he looked forward to seeing details of a deal that would hold Zimbabwean lawmakers accountable.
"The new government will be judged on its actions, above all by the people of Zimbabwe," he said.