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Zim parliament OKs draft constitution

10 May 2013, 13:36

Harare - Zimbabwe's lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a draft constitution that was overwhelmingly endorsed in a March referendum, paving the way for new elections.

"The number of affirmative votes, 156 is not less than two-thirds of the total members of the house," said parliament speaker Lovemore Moyo in the capital Harare.

All the lawmakers present voted in favour of the draft which needed the assent of two-thirds. The rest of the 210-member chamber were absent or have passed away.

The charter is expected to be rubber-stamped by the senate and then signed into law by President Robert Mugabe.

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.

Mugabe has ruled uninterrupted since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, despite a series of disputed and violent polls and a severe economic crash propelled by hyper-inflation.

A new constitution is one of the key reforms agreed to under the unity government formed between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan 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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