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Zimbabwe votes on constitution to cut president's power

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP

Zimbabweans wait in a queue to cast their votes during a referendum in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March, 16, 2013. The country is holding the referendum on a new constitution which will pave way for the adoption of the draft constitution as the country prepares to hold elections later in the year.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Zimbabweans voted on Saturday in a referendum expected to endorse a new constitution that would trim presidential powers and pave the way for an election to decide whether Robert Mugabe extends his three-decade rule.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest president at 89, has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980 and has been accused of waging violent crackdowns on the opposition and weakening state institutions like the cabinet and parliament.

The new constitution would set a maximum two five-year terms for the president, starting with the next election, expected in the second half of this year. But the limit will not apply retroactively, so Mugabe could rule for another two terms.

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Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP

Two men pray in front of a polling station during a referendum in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 16, 2013.

Alexander Joe / AFP - Getty Images

Women cast their vote at a polling station in Chitungwiza, on March 16, 2013, for a key referendum on a new constitution that would curb President's powers and pave the way for elections later in the year.