Zimbabwe constitution ready after long wrangling

By the Associated Press | July 20, 2012 | 1:38 PM EDT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's constitutional affairs minister says an all-party panel has finally completed a draft of the country's new constitution after three years of bitter political wrangling.

Eric Matinenga said Friday copies of the new constitution will be distributed ahead of a planned referendum in line with the terms of a power sharing agreement brokered by regional leaders following violent and disputed elections in 2008.

President Robert Mugabe, the southern African nation's authoritarian ruler since 1980, has called for early elections to end the nation's fragile unity government, even without a new constitution.

Matinenga said the proposed constitution will limit the presidency to two five-year terms in the future. But 88-year-old Mugabe will still be able to run for office.

Mugabe's party has been accused of trying to sabotage changes threatening its long entrenched powers.