The European Union will oversee elections held in Zimbabwe this summer, the first time it has done so in 16 years, in a move that could bolster a weak domestic economy hungry for foreign investment.
On Monday, a memorandum of understanding for the deployment of an Election Observation Mission was signed by European Union Ambassador Philippe van Damme and Zimbabwean Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo.
The move marks the first time since 2002 that the EU has dispatched a team to observe elections in the country.
The Zimbabwean government had invited the EU back in March to observe the historic vote, which is expected in July. The delegation will work across the country, and also monitor complaints that may be filed after the election.
"EU election observers maintain strict impartiality, objectivity and independence," said a statement announcing the news.
Holding free and fair elections has been front and centre of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa's agenda since he took power in November. Former President Robert Mugabe was ousted in a coup, ending his rule of nearly four decades.
The news "is a further sign of Mnangagwa's efforts to normalise political and ultimately business relations with the West," Charles Laurie, director and head of politics at analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC Tuesday.
"Zimbabwean manufacturers, traders and tourism operators will rejoice if the EU's presence at the polls proves to be the first step towards extending a political olive branch," he said. "An endorsement of the election's legitimacy from Brussels is a critical next step for major Western investors to set aside their doubts over whether the country is 'open for business.'"