Opposition arrests among other threats begin

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ZIMBABWEAN police have again vowed to ruthlessly crush any premature victory celebrations ahead of the official release of results from this weekend’s general elections.

from our correspondent in Harare

Assistant police commissioner Faustino Mazango told a stunned news conference in the capital Harare.

“Let me at the onset indicate that we will not brook any situations of
chaos or conduct likely to cause a breach of peace, pandemonium, commotion, tumult or disturbance of peace,”

“We will not countenance any mischievous claims by anyone winning an
election just because they have led in one part of the constituency whether it be council, parliamentary, senatorial and presidential election.

He added “We urge politicians not to excite members of the public when they have a lead at one time or the other in any part of the constituency.”

Mazango urged people to rejoice only after announcement of official results but warned against provocative celebrations.

“We are more than prepared to deal a deadly blow to any such repugnant forces,” Mazango said.

“These are not mere threats, but words of advice to our brothers and
sisters and indeed everyone, lest people fail to understand and appreciate our actions to situations of anarchy.”

Last month, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri warned that his force was prepared to use firearms to stamp out violence during or after joint presidential and legislative elections this month.

The police have also banned the carrying of weapons such as knives, catapults, axes and clubs in the run-up to the polls, and for two weeks afterwards.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on Saturday to elect the president, members of parliament and local councillors.

Veteran leader Robert Mugabe, seeking a sixth term in office, has urged his supporters to desist from violence.

The other two candidates opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni have made similar appeals.

Zimbabwe’s last presidential elections in 2002 were marred by claims of
vote-rigging and violence.

Meanwhile, military police in Harare derailed Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s possible next president campaigns after arresting his pilot.

Brent Smythe, a South African national , was nabbed at Harare Airport, from where he was due to ferry Tsvangirai to rallies in the southeast of the country.

Tsvangirai himself was not at the airport at the time of the swoop by the
law-and-order section of the police.

Chief police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrest but would not say for what offence.

The helicopter was impounded and by last night it was still at the airport.

Earlier during the day another senior MDC official Jameson Timba, an 81-year-old driver and a second pilot also were arrested and taken to Harare Central Prison. They where receiving campaign material.

MDC lawyers last night tried in vain to get access to the detainees as police say they were “searching the helicopter for weapons”,

“One of our candidates, Jameson Timba, and his election agent Garikai Chuma were arrested yesterday morning at Charles Prince airport as they were receiving campaign material,” said Luke Tamborinyoka spokesperson for MDC.

Although opposition parties have said there were fewer cases of violence in the run-up to this week’s poll, they have accused the police of siding with President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party.

Zimbabwe is in the last days of campaigning in a tense election pitting
incumbent Mugabe, 84, against longtime opposition leader Tsvangirai, 56, and former finance minister and independent Simba Makoni, 57, for president.

A little-known fourth candidate, Langton Towungana, is also running.

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