Zimbabwean civil society groups said Thursday they will pursue plans to demonstrate against the proposed two-year extension of President Mugabe?s term until 2010 in spite of his warning against dissent in his state of the nation speech this week.
Mr. Mugabe referred in his address to "attempts by some misguided elements to fuel anarchy under the guise of freedom of expression and association." He warned that "the use of such platforms as tools to advance the British-inspired regime change agenda cannot be tolerated," implying he would deal harshly with dissent.
Thursday, 23 civic and church groups and political parties met and agreed to mount nonviolent resistance to the ruling party's plan to postpone the presidential election due in 2008 until 2010, in effect extending Mr. Mugabe's term for two years.
Some recent demonstrations have been met with considerable force by Zimbabwean police and other security forces. An attempted protest by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in September was quickly broken up and senior union officials were severely beaten, drawing international criticism. Last month, members of a women's activist group in Bulawayo were beaten following their arrest for protesting.
National Coordinator Jacob Mafume of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that President Mugabe's implied threat illustrated the lack of democratic rights in the country.