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Zimbabwe Group Urges Constitutional Commission to Replace Parliament Panel


An eventual referendum on a new constitution looks more distant than ever – panel co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora said it will be held by the end of June 2011 though it was to be held late this year under the original timetable

Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly, a civic group, has again called for the establishment of a constitutional commission to lead the country's deeply troubled revision process, replacing the parliamentary select committee currently in charge of the exercise which has stalled amid political partisanship and violence.

NCA Information Officer Blessing Vava said his organization proposes that the commission be composed of civil society members and chaired by a retired judge to prevent manipulation by political parties. The constitutional revision public comment process which started in June has been marred by logistical problems, intimidation and violence.

One person died in Harare last month in violence allegedly committed by militants of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe. Various ZANU-PF officials have denied any role by the party in such violence.

A senior official of the parliamentary select committee dismissed the NCA proposal for a civil society-led commission. Douglas Mwonzora, a co-chairman of the parliamentary committee, said there will be conflict in the process no matter who is in charge of it because of political party rivalry and Zimbabwe’s culture of political violence.

Meanwhile, an eventual referendum on a new constitution looks more distant than ever – Mwonzora said it will be held by the end of June 2011 though it was to be held late this year under the original timetable.

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