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Zimbabweans Approve New Constitution

People line up to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.People line up to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.
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People line up to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.
People line up to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.
VOA News
Voters in Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that curbs the powers of the president and paves the way for new elections.

Official results from Saturday's referendum show that nearly 95 percent of voters endorsed the new charter, which is backed by both main parties in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.

More than 3 million Zimbabweans voted in favor of the constitution, with only 179,000 against.

The new charter imposes a presidential term limit of two five-year terms, although longtime President Robert Mugabe, who is 89, would be allowed to seek office again.

Other changes include more rights for women and a scaling back of the death penalty to exempt women, the young and the elderly.

A new constitution was one of the conditions behind the 2008 power-sharing deal between Mugabe and his longtime opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, who now is prime minister.  

Zimbabwe is expected to hold general elections later this year to end the coalition government.

Pro-democracy groups accuse police of cracking down on Mugabe opponents ahead of the vote.

Authorities recently have moved to confiscate radios that receive international stations, and police arrested four of Tsvangirai's aides and a top human rights lawyer on Sunday.
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