Mugabe mob blocks constitution talks

HARARE - Militants from President Robert Mugabe's party have disrupted the start of a national conference aimed at drawing up a new constitution.

HARARE - Militants from President Robert Mugabe's party have disrupted the start of a national conference aimed at drawing up a new constitution.

There were minor scuffles between supporters of Mugabe and former opposition leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and the meeting yesterday collapsed in disarray amid a rowdy and tense atmosphere.

When Mugabe did not arrive at the meeting on time, parliament speaker Lovemore Moyo began the proceedings, but his opening remarks were soon drowned out by Zanu-PF militants singing revolutionary songs. Moyo, a member of Tsvangirai's MDM,was forced to withdraw from the hall.

Under Zimbabwe's unity government, an agreement that brought Mugabe and Tsvangirai together in February, a new constitution must be drawn up ahead of new elections within two years.

Mugabe has long resisted constitutional reforms, which might loosen his grip on power.

Many delegates at the meeting alleged the disruption was planned, citing a lack of security which allowed thousands of Mugabe loyalists to stream into the convention centre.

"It is outrageous. This is delinquent behaviour," said Philius Njira, a member of a constitutional reform group. - Sapa

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