20 Mar 2013

Big yes vote for new Zimbabwe constitution

9:15 pm on 20 March 2013

Zimbabwe's electoral commission says the country's new constitution has been approved by an overwhelming majority in a referendum.

It says the constitution, which limits future presidents to two five-year terms, was backed by nearly 95% of those who voted.

It was supported by the countries' two main political parties, which have been in a power-sharing government since 2009.

The constitution's approval paves the way for elections later in the year, the BBC reports.

The clause limiting presidential terms will not apply retrospectively, so Zanu-PF's 89-year-old leader, Robert Mugabe, who has led the country since independence in 1980, will be able to stand again in elections expected in July.

He will again face the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who is currently serving as prime minister in the coalition.

The two agreed to share power after disputed polls in 2008, which were marred by violence. A new constitution was one of the key elements of the power-sharing deal.