The US and the EU say there will be no immediate end to sanctions on Zimbabwe, despite a historic power-sharing deal signed in Harare on Monday.

EU foreign ministers said the measures would continue until the new government took steps to restore democracy.

Robert Mugabe said he was committed to national unity and would do “his best”.

His rival Morgan Tsvangirai, the new prime minister, said the agreement provided the best hope for Zimbabwe and called for its full implementation.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said a decision on lifting sanctions on Zimbabwean officials had been postponed until October.

Diagram of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing deal

The International Monetary Fund, which suspended financial and technical assistance in 2006, said it stood ready for talks with the new government about stabilising the economy.

But it added that Harare would have to take clear steps to resolve the economic crisis in a country where inflation stands at more than 11,000,000%.

‘Painful compromises’

In a statement, the 27 EU ministers said they would watch for the agreement’s implementation, especially the “immediate cessation of all forms of intimidation and violence”.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Zimbabwe’s new administration would have to make significant progress before the lifting of sanctions was considered.

Meanwhile, a senior US diplomat told the BBC that Washington wanted to help Zimbabwe, but would need to see proof that Mr Mugabe had relinquished some genuine power to Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, said: “We haven’t yet had a chance to study the details of the agreement, nor do we know who will be in the cabinet of this new government, so in some ways it’s a bit premature for us to comment until we have the full picture.”

On Monday, Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara – leader of a breakaway MDC faction – shook hands to rapturous applause having signed the agreement in front of some 3,000 invited guests.

Despite the agreement, South African President Thabo Mbeki, who had brokered power-sharing negotiations since July, warned the unity government’s full composition was yet to be finalised.

‘No instant cure’

The full details and content of the deal have not been confirmed but it proposes a 50-50 division of power, with Mr Mugabe remaining head of state and head of the cabinet.

Mr Tsvangirai will head a council of ministers, which will be responsible for the day-to-day managing of the country’s affairs.

The MDC and its breakaway faction are expected to have 16 ministers, while President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party will have 15.

At Monday’s ceremony in Harare’s International Conference Centre, Mr Mugabe said there were “lots of things” in the deal that the leaders did not like but that they would work together to “find our way”.

Mr Tsvangirai said the agreement was a “product of painful compromises” and that it did not provide “an instant cure” to the fortunes of Zimbabwe.

The new prime minister said addressing the hardships faced by Zimbabwe’s people would be his first priority.

“First we will stop the devastating food shortages,” he said. “The policies of the past years have made Zimbabwe a nation where the healthy flee and the sickly die.”

Mr Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, won a controversial presidential run-off election in June.

He ran unopposed after Mr Tsvangirai withdrew, claiming the MDC was the target of state-sponsored violence.

In the first round of the presidential election in March, Mr Tsvangirai gained more votes than Mr Mugabe but official results say he did not pass the 50% threshold for outright victory.

Source: BBC