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gov't presents succession bill to parliament
MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters
September 12, 2007
HARARE, Sept 12 (Reuters)
- President Robert Mugabe's government introduced a bill to parliament
on Wednesday that would allow the veteran leader to choose a successor
if he were to retire.
Zimbabwe's main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said the bill is Mugabe's
latest attempt to tighten his grip on the country after nearly three
decades in power, ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections
The MDC has also said
the bill threatens to undermine talks to break a political impasse
with the government, battling a deepening economic crisis marked
by the world's highest inflation rate and soaring unemployment.
Amendment Bill seeks to give parliament the power to elect a
new president should the incumbent fail to serve a full term. Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa said debate on the proposed law would
start on Tuesday.
Mugabe, in power since
independence from Britain in 1980, has vowed to win next year's
elections and said nobody could ever force him into exile.
At present, Zimbabwe's
president has a six-year term but if the bill is passed, it would
run concurrently with the tenure of parliament for five years.
Unlike other bills, constitutional
amendments are not referred to a parliamentary legal committee for
scrutiny but would require a two thirds majority to pass, a majority
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF enjoys.
Last week, ZANU-PF's
top decision making body said it wanted unspecified changes to the
constitutional bill. The changes would be announced by Chinamasa
The MDC is pressing for
a new constitution and says amending the constitution is in bad
faith as this is one of the sticking points in talks being mediated
by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Zimbabwe, once one of
the continent's most prosperous countries, drew fresh international
condemnation earlier this year when police arrested MDC members
during a protest to pressure the government to enact reforms.
Zimbabwe is wracked by
inflation of 7,600 percent and over 80 percent of its workforce
is jobless. Critics blame the crisis on Mugabe's policies, such
as the seizure of white-owned farms for blacks.
But the defiant 83-year-old
leader says Zimbabwe has been unfairly punished by the West over
the land seizures.
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