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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Mugabe’s tenure in Zimbabwe could finally be ended by new constitution

A new draft constitution, three years in the making, would impose term limits on the President and reduce his powers.

Image: AP

ZIMBABWEAN MPS have finalised a new draft constitution that could eventually bring a guaranteed end to Robert Mugabe’s 25-year-old reign as President.

The new constitution includes curtailed presidential powers – motivated, for many, by Mugabe’s actions in office – and limit the presidential term of office to 10 years.

The draft constitution would require the head of state to consult parliament and the cabinet on key appointments.

The proposed document, which will now be put to the public via a referendum, was crafted by experts from the main political parties to a power-sharing government that has been in place since the violence-marred election in 2008.

Mugabe – one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders, who has been the head of government in Zimbabwe for 32 years – was forced into the power-sharing deal with arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai to avoid the possibility of an all-out Civil War.

Constitutional affair minister Eric Matinenga, who comes from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, said the presence of a single president for a quarter of a century was seen by many to be the country’s prime political weakness.

The new draft charter also “proposes term limits for the presidency, the executive and independent institutions in the public sector and other state-controlled entities, including the security services,” said Matinenga.

The new document – three years in the making – must first be put to a public conference, due for the end of August, before a referendum can be held.

A meeting of EU ministers next Monday is likely to resume aid to Zimbabwe, and suspend most of the sanctions against it, if it commits to a date for the ballot.

A diplomatic source told AFP, however, that the EU would maintain sanctions against a “small core” of people including Mugabe himself.

Additional reporting by AFP

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