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extends ban on protests, rallies in Harare
May 24, 2007
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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe
police on Thursday extended a ban on political rallies and protests
in Harare which the country's embattled opposition has likened to
"a state of emergency." President Robert Mugabe's government
imposed a 3-month ban against rallies and demonstrations in February
over fears of an opposition uprising in the face of a deepening
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) reported that police authorities had extended
the ban by another month in central Harare and in several volatile
townships in the capital "in the interest of preserving peace
and public order."
Government and opposition
officials were not immediately available for comment. But ZBC said
police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena had warned that police would be
tough with anyone who breaks the law.
The main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) is still waiting for the courts to hear
its petition against the initial ban, which it likened to a state
of emergency and came alongside a government crackdown on its leaders.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF administration has routinely used riot police squads
to crush anti-government rallies, most recently on May 8 when they
used rubber batons to disperse a march by human rights lawyers protesting
against the arrest of two colleagues.
Tensions rose sharply
in early March after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and dozens
of other MDC members sustained serious injuries after being arrested
by police at an aborted prayer rally in Harare.
The 83-year-old Mugabe
accuses the MDC of being stooges of Zimbabwe's former colonial power
Britain in an effort 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 puppet party.
Critics say Mugabe has
mismanaged Zimbabwe's economy and violated human rights, sending
the once-prosperous nation into a crisis marked by inflation of
more than 3,700 percent, unemployment of more than 80 percent and
chronic shortages of food and fuel.
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