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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Organizes Mugabe Succession

Zimbabwe’s ruling party is contemplating yet another amendment to the constitution that would clear the way for Vice President Joyce Mujuru to take over from President Robert Mugabe for two years after his term ends in 2008 – without an election, say officials in Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

The rationale offered by ZANU-PF officials backing the amendment is that installing the second vice president – and heir apparent, say some - from 2008 to 2010 would allow the next presidential and general elections to be held in the same year.

But ZANU-PF sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some senior party officials, among them Justice Minister Patrick Chinimasa and State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, would rather see Mr. Mugabe stay at the helm until 2010.

Senior opposition figure Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said he is aware of the move to strategically position Mrs. Mujuru by means of such a constitutional amendment. Mr. Mugabe this month signed into law constitutional amendments setting aside legal appeals of government seizures of farms and authorizing the state to prohibit foreign travel, among others.

Mr. Ncube, a lawyer and expert in constitutional law, says this looks a lot like a rehash of the 1987 constitutional amendment the same ruling party passed to let Mr. Mugabe, then prime minister, step up as president until elections were held in 1990.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought perspective from the International Crisis Group’s director for Southern Africa, Peter Kagwanja.

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