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Zambian gov’t to go ahead with constitution amendment process in spite of opposition boycott

Last week, Justice Minister, Given Lubinda commissioned a two-phased constitution refinement roadmap adopted by cabinet to address the lacunas and inconsistencies in the current document.

He said the process, which would commence in March and end in June, would include parliamentary sessions with various stakeholders before coming up with a bill to be taken to parliament.

But some opposition leaders said their lawmakers will not be part of the constitution refinement process when it is taken to parliament because they wanted national dialogue to precede it.

Hakainde Hichilema, the main opposition leader, said his lawmakers would not take part in the refinement process and accused the government of trying to manipulate the process by avoiding the dialogue process.

But the justice minister said the process will commence in March even without the support of the opposition and that the government will not force opposition lawmakers to be part of the process.

“If they stay away, their constituencies are watching them as they have an obligation to represent the people.

“Government is giving an opportunity to the political parties and the church mother bodies to contribute by making submissions to the process in order to take part in the country’s governance,” he said at a news conference.

He has since urged other stakeholders to utilise the submission process and make their views known in order for the country to have a constitution that will stand the test of time.

The government, he said, will not leave anyone behind in the refinement process of the constitution.

The Constitution of Zambia was formally adopted in 1991 and amended in 2009 and last amended in 2016.

A constitutional referendum was held in Zambia on Aug. 11, 2016 alongside general elections, a move designed to reduce the cost of the referendum. (Xinhua/NAN)

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