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Zimbabwe Premier Tsvangirai Sees New Constitution This Year, Elections in 2011

Mr. Tsvangirai said the national unity government in Harare has secured enough funds to finance the constitutional revision process and he hopes a referendum on the new basic document can be held by year's end

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met Tuesday in Washington with key members of the U.S. Senate who told him that while legislation has been introduced to make sanctions more flexible, those against President Robert and other ZANU-PF officials will stay in place until a 2008 power-sharing agreement is fully implemented.

Mr. Tsvangirai told VOA that this was the salient point of his discussions with U.S. Senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Russell Feingold.

Mr. Tsvangirai welcomed the introduction of the new sanctions legislation, saying it will help advance democracy in the country by rewarding those who are working to restore stability and the rule of law in the country.

The Senate bill would provide technical assistance to reform-minded ministries and promote agricultural development through policies aimed at re-establishing secure land tenure, among other measures.

Late Monday, Mr. Tsvangirai told reporters he hoped the country's constitutional revision process will be completed by the end of this year so a new round of free and fair elections can be held in 2011.

Addressing a news conference in Washington, Mr. Tsvangirai said the inclusive government in Harare has secured enough funds to finance the revision process and he expects a referendum on it by the end of this year.

Earlier Monday, however, one of the co-chairs of Parliament's select committee leading the constitutional process said that due to repeated delays so far in the process, the referendum will be held early next year.

Mr. Tsvangirai was in Washington to receive the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the National Democratic Institute as well as for bilateral meetings with officials of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration.

The prime minister also had some more personal business in Washington: officiating at the soft launch of a foundation in memory of his late wife Susan, killed in a highway accident in March 2009 in which he was injured.

The Susan Tsvangirai foundation will serve Zimbabwean women and children. Sources in Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC wing said Susan Tsvangirai had intended to launch such a foundation before she was killed.

Mr. Tsvangirai said that he will carry on his wife’s legacy together with other members of his family. The foundation will be officially launched in Harare next week, party sources said.

Deputy Spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo of Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the foundation will do much to uplift lives of women and children in the country.

Although the u.s. government is considering new bills to

Loosen targeted sanctions slapped against zimbabwe, the obama administration remains steadfast that measures against individuals in the former ruling zanu-pf party will remain unless the global political agreement is implemented in full and there is genuine democracy and stability in zimbabwe.

The message was passed on to prime minister morgan tsvangirai when he met u.s. senators, among them influential representatives russ feingold (d-wi), johnny isakson (r-ga), and john kerry (d-ma).

Mr tsvangirai told voa studio reporter sandra nyaira the u.s. administration made it clear all parties to the global political agreement must fully implement it for all the sanctions to be lifted.

He welcomed the introduction of the bipartisan legislation saying it will help advance democracy in the country by rewarding those working hard for stability and the return of the rule of law.

“the united states is very clear that the implementation of the gpa and other visible reforms and other visible reforms on the ground will help even the most sceptic to come forward and help zimbabwe,” said tsvangirai.

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