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Police Break Up Harare Protest By Zimbabwe Civil Society Activists

Zimbabwean police broke up a protest march in Harare on Thursday organized by the National Constitutional Assembly, a leading civic group, which was demanding that the government hold the next presidential election on schedule in 2008.

Clashes between police and demonstrators were reported as some activists resisted being bundled into vans by security forces. The protest came one day after a more peaceful demonstration organized in the capital by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign against the "harmonization" of presidential and general elections in 2010.

Opponents of the government of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF ruling party say "harmonization" is just a pretext to extend Mr. Mugabe's term.

Harare reporter Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe provided Washington-based Studio 7 host Ndimyake Mwakalyele with an eyewitness account.

NCA National Director Ernest Mudzengi told Mwakalyele that Thursday's protest was not intended to compete with the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, of which it is part, but to reinforce the campaign's message and pressure Harare to adopt a new constitution instead of amending the old one to postpone the 2008 presidential election.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...