May 26, 2004

Mugabe set to face civil disobedience campaign

Zimbabwe's main opposition party and civic groups have begun consultations to launch a major civil disobedience campaign. The decision was taken after President Robert Mugabe shut the door on negotiations to end the crisis in Zimbabwe. In responding, Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe's largest civic group, said there was no alternative to a civil disobedience campaign, based on a set of demands, to open the way to democracy in Zimbabwe. "It seems that the only realistic way of forcing Mugabe to negotiate is by making the country ungovernable. We have mobilised for successful protests before, and this can be done. There is no other way," said a civic leader. MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the only option left for his party was to concentrate on "building a coalition of forces to mobilise strongly for the fulfilment of conditions that will guarantee free and fair elections. Ncube emphasised that everything would be done in terms of the constitutional rights of citizens to express themselves. He reiterated his party's threat to boycott the next elections unless Mugabe agreed to hold them in terms of the Southern African Development Community norms and standards for free and fair polls. The MDC has drawn up a list of 15 demands to democratise the electoral process. These include giving the opposition access to the state media, setting up an independent electoral commission, allowing United Nations supervision of elections, and restoring the rule of law. (The Star, South Africa)

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