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Zim constitution awaits Mugabe's stamp

15 May 2013, 08:06

Harare - Zimbabwe's upper house of parliament on Tuesday approved the country's new constitution, sending the document to President Robert Mugabe to sign into law.

Seventy-five senators in the 94-seat senate approved the draft constitution in the capital Harare, a week after the house of assembly overwhelmingly approved it.

The new basic law opens the path for fresh elections later this year.

Senators from Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change sang and danced celebrating the approval of the draft charter.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga read the contents of the document before he urged the senators to vote for its approval.

"It's a passage to a new Zimbabwe," Matinenga said.

The new constitution is expected to be signed into law by Mugabe, though no date has been given.

Zimbabweans overwhelmingly approved the draft constitution in March.

The text takes away the president's immunity after leaving office, bolsters the power of the courts, and sets up a peace and reconciliation commission tasked with post-conflict justice and healing.

It also limits a president's tenure to two five-year terms, curtails presidential powers and abolishes the post of prime minister.

A new constitution is one of the key reforms agreed to under the unity government formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai in 2009 following a bloody presidential run-off election the year before.

Both leaders backed the draft charter during the referendum but they are still haggling over the date of general elections.

Tsvangirai is also insisting on reforms in the media, electoral and security sectors to ensure free and credible polls.



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