PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has welcomed the EU's decision to lift most sanctions imposed against the country a decade ago on the condition it holds a credible referendum on a new constitution.
Welcoming "constructive dialogue" and political "progress", EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday also agreed to resume direct aid to Zimbabwe's government after a 10-year suspension.
"My preference remains for a full lifting of the measures in keeping with the agreement between the ... parties in Zimbabwe and resolutions of SADC," Tsvangirai said in a statement.
"Linking the suspension to the successful implementation of the constitution referendum is evidence that the EU is willing to respond to progress in reform of the democratic process in Zimbabwe."
Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe were forced into a power-sharing government in 2009 to avoid a tip into full-fledged conflict in the aftermath of a bloody presidential run-off election.
They agreed to a raft of reforms including drafting a new charter and amending media and electoral laws to pave way for new elections.
The draft constitution was unveiled last week and will be put to a referendum before elections can be organised.
Tsvangirai urged his partners in the power-sharing government to "redouble their efforts in implementing the commitments we made to fully and honestly implement the global political agreement and the road map to a free, fair, legitimate and credible election whose results are not contested."
The EU ministers said sanctions would be lifted against most of the 112 Zimbabweans still under an EU asset freeze and travel ban decided in 2002.
But this would only occur once a referendum on a new constitution has been organised, probably at the end of the year.
Still, sanctions will remain against Mugabe, 88, who has been in power for 32 years, according to EU diplomats.