August 13, 2004

President announces postponement of constitution bill

President Festus Mogae has announced that the tabling of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill has been postponed to the next Parliament. The Bill is meant to make the Constitution tribally neutral. Mogae said after referring the Bill to the House of Chiefs, government decided that it should be allowed to lapse upon the dissolution of the current Parliament. He explained that constitutional amendments required a specific period to mature. "This decision carries with it the advantage that other planned amendments to the Constitution may then be effected in the same Bill, rather than resorting to piecemeal amendments," he said.
As part of the exercise to render the Constitution tribally neutral, Mogae said Section 13 (c), which inappropriately refers to "Bushmen", will be removed. He said in addition to the proposed use of gender-neutral expressions throughout the Constitution, "sex" will be added in Section 15. Mogae also briefed Parliament about the progress that has been made in the long-awaited restructuring of the Attorney General's Chambers. He said the proposals would also require some constitutional amendments. He also indicated that he would dissolve Parliament at an appropriate time and call for general elections before the end of the year. (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gaborone)

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