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Germany, EU Voice Support of Unity Deal in Zimbabwe

Officials from the German government and the European Commission offered cautious support of an announced power-sharing deal between embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

mbeki and mugabe

South African President Mbeki (left) helped negotiate the deal with Mugabe

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed a power-sharing agreement between the main parties in Zimbabwe.

"I hope this paves the way to a peaceful future," Steinmeier said.

On Thursday, Sept. 11, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai struck a deal on forming a government of national unity, the details of which have yet to be released.

The issue now remains to tackle the southern African country's problems, said Steinmeier, adding that Zimbabwe urgently needed a fresh political and economic start and Germany would assess the new government on the basis of its achievements.

"I expect that a framework will soon be created in which democratic freedoms are respected and economic development becomes possible," he said.

The view from Brussels

Morgan Tsvangirai

The political role of Tsvangirai remains unclear

The unity deal between the parties has forced the EU to reconsider planned moves to extend sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"The European Commission of course welcomes this significant step forward," said John Clancy, commission spokesman on humanitarian aid and development issues at a daily briefing on Friday, Sept. 12.

After the violence that erupted in the runup to the elections in Zimbabwe in March, the EU imposed travel sanctions and froze the assets of member of the ruling elite to prevent them from fleeing the country.

Clancy stressed that the EU would have to review the details of the agreement before it would consider dropping sanctions or providing aid to Zimbabwe.

"However we will have to wait to learn much more about this on Monday," he said. "At this stage we are cautiously optimistic."

Praise for Mbeki

International observers are praising the South African president for helping to negotiate the deal after around eight weeks of stop-start talks held in both South Africa and Zimbabwe.

women in zimbabwe

How the deal will affect Zimbabwe is also unclear

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Mbeki's "tireless efforts to help (the Zimbabwean leaders) reach it."

"(Ban) hopes that this agreement will pave the way for a durable peace and recovery in the country and contribute to rapid improvement in the welfare and human rights of the people of Zimbabwe, who have suffered for long," the UN chief's office said in a statement.

A first round collapsed in August after Tsvangirai backed away from a deal he said would have made him a toothless prime minister.

Zimbabweans have been hoping for a negotiated settlement to resolve the country's nearly decade-long political and economic crisis, blamed largely on Mugabe's populist policies.

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