Wednesday, March 20, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) 95 percent Zimbabweans approve new constitution

95 percent Zimbabweans approve new constitution
19/03/2013 00:00:00
by AFP/Reuters

ALMOST 95 percent of Zimbabweans voted in favour of a new constitution that paves the way for new elections, results showed Tuesday.

Tallies released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) reported 3,079,966 voters were in favour of the new constitution and 179,489 were against. A total of 56,627 votes were spoilt. The official turnout of 3,317,695, which is well more than half the 5,6 million eligible voters, was higher than many analysts had expected.

The voter turnout easily dwarfs the 1,282,302 votes cast in the 2000 referendum when Zimbabweans rejected a draft constitution sponsored by President Robert Mugabe’s government and opposed by trade unionists and rights groups.

The turnout is also higher than the 2,696,670 who voted in the 2005 general elections, the 2,421,973 who cast their ballots in the March 2008 general elections and the 2,514,750 who voted in the June 27, 2008, presidential election run-off.

The new constitution sets a maximum of two five-year terms for the president. However, the limit will not apply retroactively, so Mugabe, 89, and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, could rule for the next decade.

Presidential decrees will also require majority backing in the cabinet, and declaring emergency rule or dissolving parliament will need the approval of two-thirds of lawmakers, changes that will take effect after the next election.

A new constitution and a referendum were conditions of a 2008 power-sharing deal between Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the two rival MDC factions led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube.

The constitution will now be rushed through Parliament and then be delivered to President Mugabe’s desk for assent before it becomes the supreme law.

Mugabe is expected to announce dates for the general elections shortly afterwards.

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