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Civic Group Calls New Demonstrations Against Harare Government

One week after Zimbabwe's main trade union challenged the government of President Robert Mugabe by attempting to stage a protest march through the capital, one of the country's leading civil society organizations has called its own protests. A report said the National Constitutional Assembly will stage demonstrations Wednesday.

The NCA had previously announced it would organize protests this week. The Web news agency ZimOnline reported that the constitutional reform advocacy group would take to the streets on Wednesday, though no specific time was announced. Protests were also being organized in Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Kadoma.

Earlier Tuesday, trade union leader Wellington Chibhehbe underwent surgery to treat injuries allegedly incurred in police beatings following his arrest with 14 other labor officials last week while they tried to stage a protest march in Harare.

Chibhebhe sustained a fractured left ulna, or forearm bone, and crushed fingers, in the alleged beating in cells at the Matapi police station in the Mbare section of Harare.

Union sources said the possibility was being discussed of flying Chibhebhe out of the country for treatment in France or another country; a decision was pending.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians of the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by party founder Morgan Tsvangirai tried to floor a motion in parliament condemning the alleged beatings of Chibhebhe and 14 other ZCTU officials. But the ruling party majority adjourned proceedings to next Tuesday, blocking the opposition move.

Chief parliamentary whip Innocent Gonese of the Tsvangirai MDC faction, also MDC secretary for legal and parliamentary affairs, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the opposition party is mobilizing its members and the general public for peaceful protests in solidarity with the injured ZCTU leaders.

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