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Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
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Harare - Zimbabwe
police allowed an opposition prayer meeting to take place on Saturday
in the second city of Bulawayo despite earlier threats to stop the
gathering as an illegal anti-government protest.
President Robert Mugabe's
government has in the last two months used riot police to break
up opposition rallies.
Main opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and dozens of other members of his Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) sustained serious injuries on March 11 after
being arrested by police at an aborted prayer rally in the capital
In Bulawayo, journalists
said police officers, in uniform and in plain clothes, watched opposition
figures, labour and student leaders, rights activists and clerics
filing in and out of a township church for the protest prayer meeting.
"They did not stop
the meeting but they watched from some distance, from a police station
near the church," one journalist told Reuters by telephone
from Bulawayo, southwest of Zimbabwe.
On Friday the government
said it might stop the gathering because it could be turned into
an illegal opposition protest.
Organisers of the vigil,
the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, said in a statement on Saturday they
were determined to defy any attempt to stop the prayer meeting despite
fears of a police crackdown.
of the campaign once again reiterates its commitment to the resolution
of the Zimbabwean crisis in total defiance of the brutality being
perpetrated by the state security agents," it said. "We
deplore the use of violence by those that are in power."
Tsvangirai, who is nursing
wounds sustained in police custody, did not go to Bulawayo but some
of his MDC deputies went to the meeting which was co-organised by
Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, one of Mugabe's most vehement critics.
Bishops' Conference last week joined Ncube -- who has largely
been a lone voice from the Catholic leadership to tackle the government
publicly -- in accusing Mugabe and his officials of running a corrupt
government and abusing the political rights of Zimbabweans.
Mugabe and his officials
have not responded publicly to the criticism by the Catholic Church,
which some analysts believe could have a greater influence in persuading
him to discuss political reform than attacks from elsewhere.
Mugabe, a practising
Catholic, has traditionally taken a hands-off approach to critics
within the Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination in
Mugabe accuses Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain of leading
a Western campaign to oust his government as punishment for seizing
and redistributing white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks.
London denies there is such a plot, and the MDC says it is not a
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