Zimbabwe lawmakers vote unanimously for new constitution, senators still to endorse it

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Zimbabwe lawmakers have voted unanimously in the lower house to approve a new draft constitution that will enshrine democratic reforms.

All 156 legislators present verbally voted "yes" Thursday. A new constitution was accepted by 95 percent of the vote in a referendum March 16 to replace the first constitution adopted after independence in 1980.

The draft now goes to the 90-member Senate for debate and a final vote Tuesday. President Robert Mugabe then needs to sign it into law before elections scheduled around September.

The upper house is also expected to pass the draft with unanimity, which is rare in Zimbabwe's legislature.

The new constitution limits the presidency to two five-year terms but is not retroactive, allowing the 89-year-old Mugabe to compete in the next polls.