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Lawyer: Zimbabwean court dismisses request to postpone referendum citing presidential powers

A Zimbabwean lawyer says a judge dismissed a civic group's application to postpone the country's referendum vote on a new constitution.

Alec Muchadehama, attorney for the National Constitutional Assembly, said Thursday a High Court judge ruled the courts have "no power" to change a date set by President Robert Mugabe because "he can do whatever he wants as long as the constitution allows it."

Mugabe announced on Feb. 8 that the referendum will be held on March 16, allowing voters only five weeks to review the 160-page draft charter.

The National Constitutional Assembly argues that is not enough time for people to read and understand such a "complex" document.

Muchadehama said he will appeal against the ruling because it "allows the president to act against the rights of citizens."