Zimbabwe govt rejects opposition demands for new constitution

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Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa Monday s aid the government will not give in to opposition demands for a new constitution
before general elections at the end of March, prompting fears President Robert Mugabe’s opponents might boycott the polls.
Reacting to the demands for the first time, Chinamasa said the government woul d only consider drafting a new constitution after the elections, which the oppos i tion has threatened to boycott unless its conditions were met.
In addition to re-writing the constitution, the opposition is also demanding electoral reforms and a postponement of the elections from March to June, to allow for changes to take effect. But Chinamasa said the government would ignore the demands, and hold elections 29 March as proclaimed by Mugabe at the weekend. He said a new constitution can only be written after nationwide consultations with the people, a process which cannot be completed in a short time. “We would like whatever document comes out of the national consultative proces s to be subjected to a referendum and if the people accept it, only then will th e country put in place a new constitution. “As ZANU-PF (ruling party), we are basically saying the people should be consu lted and that is a commitment we have made as a ruling party,” he pointed out. But Chinamasa said the government would look at the opposition demands after t he polls, through a nationwide consultative process. The main opposition parties said they would meet shortly to consider whether or not to take part in the March elections.

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