Zimbabwe

MDC backs draft constitution

2012-07-28 20:25
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai speaks during a lunch at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. (AP )

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai speaks during a lunch at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. (AP )

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Harare - The party of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pushed on Saturday for approval of a disputed draft constitution needed for new elections, calling it "the best document" possible.

A spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Douglas Mwonzora, said that if the draft was looked at objectively, "one will come to the unescapable conclusion that it is the best document so far since 1896".

That date marks the colonisation of the country which was initially known as Rhodesia.

A new constitution, which is to be put to a public referendum, is one of Zimbabwe's main reforms ahead of elections to replace an uneasy coalition formed by President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai three years ago.

The coalition was designed to prevent the country from tipping into wider conflict in the aftermath of a bloody presidential election.

European Union officials have said they would lift most sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe a decade ago once the country has held a "credible" vote on a new constitution.

Compromise

Mwonzora said his party's officials were satisfied with the draft and had agreed to support the document, which was completed last week by negotiators from the country's two man political parties.

Some analysts have criticised the document as a flawed compromise which will not have any effect, however.

The proposed constitution would curtail presidential powers and impose a two-term limit of 10 years. Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence.

It would also strip the president of immunity from prosecution once he leaves office, a major concern for Mugabe who fears being hauled to court over human rights abuses.

Following a long debate on allowing same-sex marriage and ending capital punishment, the draft defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and maintains the death penalty except for women and people aged 70 or older.

It provides for citizenship by birth, descent or registration, but does not allow dual citizenship.

The draft also foresees compensation for white farmers who were forced off their land by Mugabe's controversial land reforms and protects the property rights of the new farmers.

- SAPA

Read more on:    mdc  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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