President Robert Mugabe on 22 May 2013 signed Zimbabwe's new constitution into law, clearing the path to crucial elections later this year. The constitution was unopposed through both houses of parliament. The new constitution was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March 2013.
The features of new constitution are as following:
• The constitution cut short the powers of the president, limits presidential tenures to two five-year terms and does away with the post of prime minister.
• However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could technically extend his three decades in office by another 10 years.
• A new constitution is one of the pre-conditions for elections to pick a successor to the power-sharing government Mugabe formed four years ago with Tsvangirai. The date for the elections is yet to be announced.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 when the country gained independence from Britain. His regime has been tainted by allegations of rights abuses against his opponents and critics. Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government in 2009 to avoid the conflict following a bloody and violent Presidential run-off election in 2008. The power-sharing government faced difficulties frequently over the allocations of key government posts, the implementation of key reforms and incidents of violence.
The five-year coalition parliament was formed under the same power sharing agreement. It expires on 29 June 2013, and parliamentary and presidential elections have to take place within 90 days of that date.
Mugabe and his allies want the elections as early as possible, while Tsvangirai insists on the application of reforms for ensuring a free and fair election.