Mugabe signs Zim Constitution into law

The Zimbabwean president increases his re-election chances through constitutional reform

The Zimbabwean president increased his re-election chances through Constitutional reform.

HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signed a new constitution into law on Wednesday, replacing 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, approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March, clips the powers of the president and imposes a two-term limit. However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could extend his 33 years in power by another decade.

A beaming 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 Mugabe and Tsvangirai after disputed and violent elections in 2008.

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

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

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