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Zimbabwe Voters Want New Constitution - Election Monitor

In a preliminary report on public opinion regarding a ruling party proposal to postpone next year's presidential election, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said voters would rather see a new constitution than further amendment of the existing one.

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front of President Robert Mugabe has mooted an amendment to the constitution that would allow authorities to postpone the presidential election due in 2008 for two years until 2010. The rationale offered by the ruling party is that this would "harmonize" presidential and general elections.

But critics of the proposal say it is just a scheme to extend President Mugabe's term for two years, putting off a potentially divisive succession fight within ZANU-PF.

The ruling party wields a two-thirds majority in parliament and passed a constitutional amendment last year which, among other provisions, nationalized all farmland and denied legal recourse to white farmers dispossessed under land reform.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a respected election monitoring group, has been holding consultative meetings around the country to solicit public views on the so-called “harmonization” of presidential and general elections in 2010.

ZESN Information Officer Ellen Kandororo drafted an article summarizing the opinions collected by her organization in meetings held in recent weeks in Harare, the eastern border city of Mutare and the Midlands industrial city of Gweru.

Kandororo told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the main issue raised by Zimbabwean voters is the need for a new constitution.

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