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Constitutional Amendment Clears Zimbabwe's Upper House Unopposed

Controversial legislation to amend Zimbabwe's constitution for significant changes in the country's electoral dispensation cleared the senate without opposition after being passed unanimously by the lower house last week under a bipartisan deal.

Constitutional law lecturer Greg Linnington of the University of Zimbabwe said President Robert Mugabe now has 21 days to sign the bill, which will become law after its publication in the official state Gazette or upon a date stipulated in the bill.

Linnington said that as there was no opposition in parliament to the bill - 56 senators approved the changes, including opposition members - it could become law soon.

University of Zimbabwe Senior Political Science Lecturer John Makumbe told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the passage of the bill, still opposed by civil society despite a compromise between the ZANU-PF ruling party and the Movement for Democratic Change, was a foregone conclusion.

Elsewhere, a public discussion in Harare late Tuesday on fighting authoritarianism in Africa through democratic means turned into a heated debate over the recent opposition vote in favor of Constitutional Amendment No. 18.

Correspondent Sylvia Manika reported from Harare on the discussion.

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