The European Union has welcomed the swearing-in of the former Zimbabwean opposition leader as Prime Minister in a new national government. At the same time, the bloc warned that the road to recovery won't be easy.
After years of struggle, Tsvangirai finally has a share of power
As the world's largest donor of aid to the troubled African nation, the EU has reacted positively to the formation of a national unity government there.
"This is an important step toward democratic rule in the country;" the bloc said in an official statement. "The EU hopes that the formation of the new government will lead to an immediate end to political violence and intimidation…and the stabilization and recovery of Zimbabwe."
Morgan Tsvangirai's swearing-in on Wednesday, Feb. 11 came after months of wrangling between him and Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country for 29 years as a virtual dictator. Tsvangirai narrowly defeated Mugabe in a national election last year.
The power-sharing agreement begins with the country beset by rampant inflation and disease. Some 3,400 people in Zimbabwe have died of cholera in the past six months, and near 70,000 have been affected by ailment.
Lack of clean water has led to a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe
The EU stressed that fixing the country's many problems would be no easy task.
"Zimbabwe's journey towards recovery will be long and difficult," EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said in a separate statement. "The new power-sharing government has a heavy responsibility to ensure positive change for its citizens."
The EU tightened its sanctions on Zimbabwe several weeks ago to increase pressure on Mugabe to agree to a compromise. And the bloc said sanctions would remain in place until there was concrete evidence of political improvement.
"We are ready to support the economic and social recovery of Zimbabwe once the new government shows tangible signs of respect for human rights, the rule of law and macro-economic stabilization," the EU said in its official statement.
As a sanction for Zimbabwe's dreadful human-rights record, Mugabe and his family and allies are banned from entering the EU.
The bloc now hopes that the implementation of the power-sharing agreement will be the first step in the 84-year-old Mugabe's departure from power in a country he has brought to the brink of collapse.