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Zimbabwe Police Arrest Dozens of Protesters

Zimbabwean police on Wednesday arrested dozens of marchers for taking part in a demonstration for constitutional reform.

Those arrested were part of a crowd estimated at 400 people who took part in the demonstration organized by the National Constitutional Assembly, a lobby group for constitutional reform.

The group blames the current constitution for what it calls the abuse of power by the government, and has vowed to protest until a new constitution is in place. The group's chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku, is among those being held, along with two journalists

Under Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act, it is an offense to organize a march without police permission.

The National Constitutional Assembly has defied that requirement on numerous occasions. Just last month, more than 100 people were arrested for protesting the closure of the country's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News. They were released after spending a night in police cells and paying a fine.

The assembly is a coalition of political parties, and student, church and human rights groups that successfully led the campaign against the government-sponsored draft constitution, which Zimbabwean voters rejected in a referendum in February, 2000.

Police have confirmed the arrests and say the people will be charged with participating in an illegal demonstration.