The Commonwealth of Nations has said that it hopes Zimbabwe will become a member again - but made clear that this must await significant reforms corresponding to the full implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.
Resolutions adopted by the Commonwealth Summit of Government Heads in Perth, Australia, over the past weekend, said Commonwealth members “look forward” to seeing such conditions of reform put into place allowing Harare to rejoin.
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said the group is keeping an eye on Zimbabwe to "watch the situation very closely as well as their readiness to promote genuine democracy through a free, fair and transparent electoral process."
He said Commonwealth leaders will deliberate on readmission of Zimbabwe to the group of mostly former British colonies once democracy is restored there.
The Commonwealth position came as critics said the organization has not pushed Harare hard enough on democracy and human rights issues, some adding that the resolution will support elements in the Harare government that spurn international pressure.
Hardliners in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF have demanded that Western travel and financial sanctions on him and many others in the party be lifted as a condition for fulfillment of the power-sharing agreement underpinning the unity government.
Senior research associate Richard Bourne of the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau, an independent London think tank that recently urged the Commonwealth to re-engage Zimbabwe, says insufficient progress in Harare has sidelined the Commonwealth.
He said that in view of the vague stance on Zimbabwe taken by the Commonwealth, it will probably wait for major events - for instance, the passing of President Robert Mugabe, 87, major reforms or transparent elections - to re-engage Zimbabwe.
But Bourne said this will not keep the Advisory Bureau from pressuring the group to push the Harare government for reforms and changes in Zimbabwe