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Amnesty International Urges Southern African Body Stand Firm on Zimbabwe

Civic organizations have called demonstrations to pressure SADC to press President Mugabe for reforms, while ZANU-PF is said to be busing in supporters from Harare for a counter-demonstration

Amnesty International has urged the Southern African Development Community to hold firm on the findings and recommendations issued by its troika on politics, defense and security in April saying Zimbabwe must set a road map to the next elections, quell political violence and speed up electoral and numerous other reforms.

An Amnesty International team is in South Africa this week lobbying SADC diplomats before the summit in which the regional group will take up Zimbabwe issues.

In a statement, Amnesty International said it wants to make sure SADC does not back off the tough position on Zimbabwe adopted by its troika, which many took as an admonition to President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

Both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have launched energetic pre-summit lobbying campaigns.

Pro-democracy civic organizations have called demonstrations to pressure SADC to press Mr. Mugabe for meaningful reforms. ZANU-PF is said to be busing in supporters from Harare for a counter-demonstration in South Africa.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza said reform of Zimbabwe's national security sector is crucial to ensure free and fair elections.

"Because that has not happened we are calling on the SADC particularly to ensure that in the road map to the next election, the necessary reforms, are undertaken to ensure that the police enforce the law and do not fight with a single political party."

But Chris Mutsvangwa, with the ZANU-PF delegation dispatched to Johannesburg, said the regional organization has no brief to press Harare for security sector reform.

National Constitutional Assembly Regional Coordinator Munjodzi Mutandiri said SADC must press for significant reforms in Harare before new elections are held.

The last round of national elections in 2008 was marred by deadly violence, leaving the outcome disputed, leading to the drafting and signature of the Global Political Agreement for power sharing and the 2009 establishment of a national unity government.

Meanwhile, Newsday, an independent daily newspaper, said a proposal for reform of the Central Intelligence Organization has been submitted to South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in the political standoff, by negotiators for the co-governing parties.

MDC sources close to the negotiations said ZANU-PF negotiators had agreed to make changes to operations of the CIO, which most consider to be a ZANU-PF tool.

The CIO is attached to the office of President Mugabe, and its agents have frequently been spotted working with police and the military cracking down on his opponents.

Human rights lawyer Kucaca Phulu welcomed the development, saying new legislation is going to be necessary to bring the CIO under proper control.