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Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
Zim opposition leader arrested
Mail & Guardian (SA)
March 11, 2007
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police arrested the country's top opposition leader on Sunday as
they suppressed a planned prayer rally in a crackdown on protests
against President Robert Mugabe.
Witnesses said heavily
armed police fought skirmishes with rock-throwing opposition supporters
in the Harare township of Highfield, where the opposition-aligned
Save Zimbabwe Coalition had called for a Sunday prayer rally.
Police arrested Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition
officials after blocking their motor convoy from driving to the
stadium where the rally was to have been held.
"Mr Tsvangirai has
also been arrested. He was arrested as he was driving out of Highfield,"
MDC information officer Luke Tamborinyoka told Reuters. "We
don't know where he is being held at the moment."
earlier said that Arthur Mutambara, who leads another faction of
the MDC, and Lovemore Madhuku of the pressure group National
Constitutional Assembly were also detained.
Riot police moved in
force early on Sunday to head off the prayer rally, which police
had said would violate a ban on political protests imposed after
opposition supporters clashed with police in Highfield last month.
Organisers had argued
that the ban should not apply to a prayer vigil.
in the area shuttered stores, while hundreds of people wandered
the streets under the gaze of police units.
Witnesses said later
in the day police had fired tear gas at youths who were throwing
stones at their patrols, taunting them and defying orders not move
around in large numbers.
"There have been
several skirmishes between the police and some youths, people throwing
stones, and the police firing tear gas," a Zimbabwean journalist,
who lives in Highfield, told a Reuters correspondent by phone.
Riot police mounted road
blocks on major highways into the township, and were searching vehicles
for arms and questioning motorists where they were going.
Police on Saturday accused
some elements in the MDC of hiring and arming "thugs"
to attack officers.
"As far as we are
concerned that is a political rally ... and we are going to stop
that meeting," national police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena
told a news conference. Bvudzijena said he had no immediate information
on the arrests.
Officials have tightened
the screws on the opposition after violence broke out last month
when riot police broke up an MDC rally despite a court order directing
that it should be allowed.
State media said officials
feared the rally was intended to launch street protests against
Zimbabwe has seen political
tensions build as it sinks deeper into its worst economic crisis
in decades, with inflation now above 1 700%, unemployment of close
to 80% and regular shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange.
in power since independence in 1980, dismisses the MDC as a puppet
of Zimbabwe's former colonial master Britain which opposes him for
seizing white-owned commercial farms to give to blacks. -
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