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Zimbabwe parliament amends constitution empowering president to select top judges

[JURIST] Zimbabwe's parliament on Monday voted to amend its constitution to empower the president to handpick the nation's top judges. With this amendment, President Robert Mugabe [Britannica profile] will have substantially greater power [Guardian report] than he did under the 2013 constitution. Under the previous version, the president's power in selecting top judges was limited, as he could only choose justices from the judiciary services commission's list of candidates. The decision sparked political tensions in Zimbabwe, since many who oppose an authoritarian government have made great strides in recent years to democratize the country.

The amendment comes from the 2013 battle between Zanu-PF [official website] and the opposition parties, regarding government authority. Mugabe's presidency has only increased the tension in the last year. In February Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court rejected a case [JURIST article] alleging that Mugabe is unfit to hold office because of his age, holding that the applicant failed to follow proper court filing procedures. In October the Harare High Court in Zimbabwe upheld [JURIST report] a 30-day ban against protests in the capital, despite calls from Amnesty International for the ban to be lifted.

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