[JURIST] Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile] has signed a bill into law that amends the Zimbabwean Constitution [PDF text] to essentially allow Mugabe to pick his successor. A government publication indicated that the bill came into effect on Tuesday. The Zimbabwean Parliament unanimously passed the bill in September following only one day of debate [JURIST reports].
The changes allow parliament to appoint a new president should the incumbent step down before the end of his term. Some speculate that Mugabe will step down before elections are held so that his party, the ZANU-PF, will be able to select the next president. The constitutional reforms also allow the simultaneous election of the president and both houses of the legislature. Critics allege that the reforms are intended to weaken the opposition. The amendments will end the existing assembly's term two years early in 2008, reduce the president's term from six years to five, and increase the number of legislators in the House of Assembly from 150 to 210 and the number of Senators to 93. In addition, the number of House of Assembly members appointed by the president will decrease from 30 to 10, but the number of senators appointed by the president will go from 16 to 34. Reuters has more.