Plan to extend Mugabe rule endorsed


Zimbabwe's ruling party last night approved a preliminary move to extend President Robert Mugabe's rule by two years, a step critics say would plunge the southern African country deeper into crisis.

An annual conference of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party noted and adopted a motion approving the plan to move presidential polls from 2008 to 2010 so they can be "harmonised" and held at the same time as parliamentary elections.

The proposal has been passed to ZANU-PF's policy-making central committee, which meets about four times a year and is expected to endorse the plan which has been backed by a majority of the party's provincial executives. The next central committee meeting is expected before March.

The proposal must also be approved by parliament, but that also is assured because it is dominated by Mugabe's party.

ZANU-PF national chairman John Nkomo said all resolutions submitted to the conference, including the one supporting a two-year extension to Mugabe's current term, had been "noted" and passed on to the central committee.

"The take-note motion has been moved and adopted," he said. Thousands of delegates cheered as a party official read resolutions on the controversial issue, which said in part: