Tsvangirai and top lieutenants detained

ZIMBABWE opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several of his top lieutenants were detained by police yesterday, ahead of a run-off presidential election on June 27, his party said.

“He has been taken into a charge office in Lupane,” south-western Zimbabwe, said chief spokesman for Movement for Democratic Change Nelson Chamisa.

“It’s the whole entourage of the president, including his security personnel and other senior party officials.”

Others arrested included the party’s deputy leader Thokozani Khupe and MDC chairman Lovemore Moyo.

“They have not given us any reason for the arrest,” said Chamisa.

The MDC said in a statement that Tsvangirai had initially been stopped by police while driving in the Lupane area and held for two hours before being taken to the police station.

Four MDC lawmakers have also been arrested.

A leader of a breakaway MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, was arrested on Sunday over an opinion piece which was heavily critical of Mugabe’s rule.

The party says that 58 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe militias in recent weeks.

The MDC has faced severe restrictions in its campaigning efforts and Tsvangirai has been largely prevented from addressing party rallies.

During a visit to the southern city of Bulawayo on Tuesday, Tsvangirai said: “Mugabe is determined to turn the whole country into a war zone in order to subvert the will of the people and steal the June 27 election.

“But we will not stop campaigning, the people will not stop supporting the MDC and together we will defeat this illegitimate and desperate regime.”

The former union leader suffered head injuries in March last year after being assaulted by security forces as he tried to stage a rally in the capital Harare.

Tsvangirai is only participating in the run-off election on June 27 under protest, insisting he won an outright majority in the first round in March.

Official results from the electoral commission gave Tsvangirai 47.9% of the votes against Mugabe’s 43.2%.

News of Tsvangirai’s detention came as it was revealed that three aid agencies, including CARE International and Britain’s Save the Children, had been ordered to cease operations in Zimbabwe over allegations that they had campaigned for the MDC before the March 29 election.


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