[JURIST] The Zambian government will hold a national referendum on its proposed new constitution [draft constitution, PDF], Justice Minister George Kunda said Thursday. Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa [official profile] has to date voiced objections to the draft constitution proposed by the Constitution Review Process Implementation Committee, but has now agreed to put the draft to a national vote by issuing a statutory order to initiate the referendum. The announcement came the day after opposition party Patriotic Front [party website] and a coalition of activist groups revealed plans to hold nationwide demonstrations demanding a new constitution.
Zambia's constitution [text] has been in place since the nation's independence in 1964 and has been amended several times. In 2003, Mwanawasa ordered the Constitution Review Process Implementation Committee to submit proposals [speech excerpt] for a new constitution. Mwanawasa has objected to the Committee's recommendations that the president must be elected by a margin of 50 percent plus one vote, as well as other limitations on presidential power. AFP has more.