Zimbabwe: Mugabe and Tsvangirai in 'constitution deal'

BY: Sebastian Syme

Zimbabwe's rival political leaders say they have reached a deal over a new constitution, removing a key obstacle to holding elections.

The agreement was struck in talks involving President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Tsvangirai said a "long journey" had ended, while Mr Mugabe said he was "glad" that a deal had been reached.

The prime minister had set the adoption of a constitution as a condition for polls due later this year.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party entered into a fractious coalition following the 2008 election, which was marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.

The BBC's Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, says details of the deal have not been made public, but it is understood that the powers of the president have been curbed - a key demand of the MDC.

The 88-year-old Mr Mugabe, who is expected to run for another term in office, was in jovial mood when he addressed a news conference with Mr Tsvangirai at his official residence, our reporter adds.

"We are glad to say that we have come to the conclusion of the [constitution-making] exercise and all parties are agreed - sure there are Ts to be crossed and Is to be dotted," Mr Mugabe said.

Mr Tsvangirai said the constitution would be a "social contract" with Zimbabweans.

"This is not about individuals... I'm sure this will be a living document," he said.

Mr Mugabe said the constitution would be put to a referendum.