Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signed a new constitution into law on Wednesday, replacing a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for elections later this year.

The constitution, approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March, clips the powers of the president and imposes a two-term limit.

However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could extend his 33 years in power by another decade, Reuters says.

A beaming Mugabe, flanked by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his main political rival, and deputy president Joice Mujuru, signed multiple copies of the charter at State House in the capital, Harare.

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Aides and other politicians present at the signing broke into applause the moment the veteran leader put down his pen.

The constitution was formed as part of a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after disputed and violent elections in 2008.

The five-year coalition parliament formed under the same agreement expires on June 29, and parliamentary and presidential elections should follow within 90 days of that date.




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