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Zimbabwe's Ruling Party Endorses Extended Term for Mugabe

Zimbabwe's ruling party has endorsed a controversial proposal that extends the rule of President Robert Mugabe by two years, until 2010.

Leaders of the ZANU-PF party adopted the preliminary motion Saturday during a three-day conference.

Party leaders voted to delay the presidential election that is slated for 2008. They say it would be more cost effective to have the presidential vote coincide with the parliamentary elections that are set for 2010.

Critics say the delay is designed to give Mr. Mugabe and his party more time to decide on a presidential candidate.

Parliament still must approve the motion.

The 82-year-old Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. His government has moved to suppress dissent, as the country struggles with soaring inflation and unemployment rates.

Critics blame the economic crisis on government policies, especially the seizures of white-owned farms that have caused a sharp fall in agricultural production.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.