The European Union’s ambassador to Zimbabwe says the EU will respect the outcome of the next election even if it is won by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party – provided the vote is held in a free and fair environment.
In an end-of-year address, Ambassador Aldo Dell'Ariccia told reporters that the EU wants the inclusive government to end all forms of violence and implement broad political reforms before heading to the polls.
He also urged the governing partners to achieve closure on the many sticking points in the 2008 Global Political Agreement and elsewhere.
Addressing the issue of international election observers, he said the EU is interested in observing the vote, but will only do so if invited by Harare.
President Robert Mugabe has said no observer invitations will be issued to countries that have imposed sanctions on him and many of his ZANU-PF party associates.
But Dell'Ariccia said the EU will be content to rely upon observation by the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, both guarantors pf the Global Political Agreement which underpins the power-sharing arrangement.
ZANU-PF Member of Parliament for Mwenezi East, Masvingo province, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, commented that the the European Union has come to realize that his party is more popular than the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the European Union's position shows it now respects the right of Zimbabweans to choose their leaders.