Zimbabwe's new constitution signed into law

Wednesday 22 May 2013 21.23
The new constitution does not apply retroactively, so Robert Mugabe could extend his 33 years in power by another decade
The new constitution does not apply retroactively, so Robert Mugabe could extend his 33 years in power by another decade

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has signed the nation's new constitution into law.

The new constitution replaces a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for elections later this year.

The constitution was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March.

The new document restricts the powers of the president and imposes a two-term limit.

However, it does not apply retroactively, so Mr Mugabe, 89, could extend his 33 years in power by another decade.

President Mugabe, flanked by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his main political rival, and deputy president Joice Mujuru, signed multiple copies of the charter at State House in the capital, Harare.

Aides and other politicians present at the signing broke into applause the moment the veteran leader put down his pen.

The constitution was formed as part of a power-sharing deal between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai after disputed and violent elections in 2008.

The five-year coalition parliament formed under the same agreement expires on 29 June and parliamentary and presidential elections should follow within 90 days of that date.

However, many obstacles remain, not least finding the estimated $130m (€100m) needed to pay for the election and reaching agreement on outside monitors.

Zimbabwe has turned down offers of United Nations or donor assistance.