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Zimbabwe constitution project suspended indefinitely

[JURIST] Zimbabwean state-run media on Thursday announced [AFP report] the suspension of governmental efforts to collect public opinions on a new constitution for the country. Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, co-chairman of the committee charged with drafting the document, cited financial and logistical concerns, as well as disagreements over who would be responsible for gathering the public’s views. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website; JURIST news archive] leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] accused President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] of utilizing stall tactics [BBC report] to delay the process, as new elections are to be held once the constitution is completed. No indication was given as to when the project might resume, though the committee will meet next week to discuss funding options.

The Zimbabwean parliament announced the formation of a committee to draft a new constitution in April as part of the power sharing agreement [JURIST reports] signed in September 2008 by Mugabe and Tsvangirai. It was hoped that a draft of the new constitution would be completed by this February [Mail and Guardian report] so that it could be decided upon via referendum in July and adopted by the end of the year. Zimbabwe last attempted a constitutional referendum in 2000, though it was rejected due to concerns about the extent of power that would be given to Mugabe.

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