President Robert Mugabe today signed into law a new constitution that curbs the powers of his office and clears the way for fresh elections, marking a new era for the country that has been run under the Lancaster House Constitution since independence from Britain in 1980.
President Mugabe smiled and shook hands with fellow unity government principals, including long-time rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, after signing copies of the document in Harare.
The document has since been gazetted and is now Zimbabwe’s supreme law.
The new constitution was a condition of the 2008 power-sharing agreement that saw Mr. Tsvangirai becoming prime minister after disputed and bloody elections.
With the new constitution now in place, Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections sometime later this year.
Flanked by her deputy, Joice Mujuru, and Mr. Tsvangirai, the president called for peace and in unity in the country during and after the forthcoming elections. He said the poll will not be rigged.
Mr. Mugabe said people must be allowed to vote for candidates of their choice peacefully.
He praised the new charter saying it demands that Zimbabweans unite and work together for the development of the country.
Mr. Tsvangirai said President Mugabe, who has previously said he was unhappy with the Lancaster House Constitution, can now rejoice since Zimbabwe now has its own home grown constitution.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara urged the nation to maintain the same unity and co-operation that characterised the drafting and adoption of the new constitution.
Before winding his speech, Mr. Mugabe took a swipe at the local media for what he said was shoddy journalism.