Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders agreed to begin negotiations over a possible power-sharing agreement, a tentative first step toward resolving the country's political crisis.
Many in the international community have refused to recognize Mr. Mugabe's re-election in a June 27 run-off where he was the only candidate. His leading opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change, dropped out of the race because of a concerted campaign of violence against his supporters, despite his winning the first round of voting in March.
As the talks get under way it's unclear how substantive they will be. Still, negotiations of any kind are better than the violence seen during the spring election campaign, when more than a hundred opposition activists were killed and thousands more were injured.
Mr. Mugabe, who once said "only God" could remove him as president, won't share power willingly. Indeed, to even bring him to the bargaining table took immense international pressure, particularly from fellow African leaders. Even as he and Mr. Tsvangarai announced the agreement with a symbolic handshake, the European Union was moving to widen economic sanctions to target more officials and companies linked to his government. Action by the United Nations is also possible if conditions in Zimbabwe continue to deteriorate.
This scrutiny will continue as the parties try to hammer out a framework that could allow them to work together in a unity government. The best resolution, however, would be a solution that takes into account the will of the Zimbabwean people as expressed in the March 29 elections that demanded new leadership for this country that has suffered so much.