23 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Zim Civic Groups to Lobby for Reforms At A.U. Summit

Delegations from Zimbabwean civic society travelled to Addis Ababa this week, hoping to lobby Heads of State on the sidelines of the African Union Summit that opened on Monday.

The Zimbabwean crisis is not officially on the A.U. agenda this time, as the focus will most likely be on serious conflicts in the Sudan, DRC, and now Mali. But recent developments, including progress in constitutional reform and arrests of human rights activists, are expected to be discussed in meetings on the sidelines.

Civic groups at the summit said they want to push for the implementation of other key reforms stipulated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and present an accurate picture of the intensifying situation on the ground. This includes ongoing violence, harassment of NGOs and the abuse of civil liberties.

The theme for this year's summit, "Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance", will focus on issues that are hindering economic development on the continent.

Ambassadors and Ministers are already conducting meetings, with Heads of State scheduled to meet on Sunday and Monday.

Delegations were sent by the Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and the NGO Human Rights Forum.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he does not believed they will be any more dissenting voices, in either party, in the drafting of a new constitution following an agreement last week by the party leaders to bridge their differences on all outstanding issues.

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