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Zimbabwe moves closer to elections with new constitution

Zimbabweans approved a new constitution which limits the powers of the presidency and moves the country closer to elections.

Zimbabwe referendum new constitution elections march 2013Enlarge
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in St Peter's Square on March 19, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Meanwhile, Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new constitution that limits the powers of the presidency. (Peter Macdiarmid/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly 95 percent of Zimbabweans voted on Tuesday in favor of a new constitution that would limit the presidency's power, moving the country closer to holding national elections.

Tallies from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed 3,079,966 voting in favor of the new constitution, with 179,489 voting against.

"Since the majority of votes were received in favor of the adoption of the draft constitution, the draft constitution is declared to have been adopted by the people of Zimbabwe as the constitution of Zimbabwe," Chief Election Officer Lovemore Sekeramai told reporters, according to Bloomberg.

The new constitution would limit future presidents to two five-year terms, according to the BBC.

Political rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who were forced into a power-sharing government since 2009, supported the new constitution.

The BBC noted that the presidential limits clause would not apply retrospectively, allowing Mugabe to stand for elections again in July. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence 33 years ago, and has been accused by human rights groups of rigging elections and using violence against his opponents.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/zimbabwe/130319/zimbabwe-moves-closer-elections-new-constitution