Tsvangirai released from ten hour detention

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Opposition MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was finally released last night after he spent more than 10 hours in police custody.

from our correspondent in Harare

The opposition leader, who is campaigning ahead of a presidential run-off election against Robert Mugabe, was arrested at a roadblock in Lupane, Matabeleland North Province together with his deputy, Thokozani Khuphe and national chairman, Lovemore Moyo.

Several more party members who include his party’s provincial officials were accompanying him.

Tsvangirai is on the campaign trail of Matabeleland North province ahead of the high stakes June 27 poll.

George Sibotshiwe, spokesperson for the MDC leader said that Tsvangirai was finally released at 10.30 pm Zimbabwe time after police had recorded a warned-and-cautioned statement from him.

“He has just been released,” Sibotshiwe said, “Police say he violated a section of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) by walking around in Lupane.”

Tsvangirai was released together with all members of his entourage who had also been held.

Repeated efforts to seek comment from police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijenna were fruitless as he was not reachable on his mobile phone.

But undeterred by the incident, the MDC leader is reportedly going ahead with his campaign in Matebeleland where he enjoys massive support.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of frustrating its efforts to campaign freely by
employing a combination of intimidation on its supporters and the banning of its rallies.

On Tuesday police in Matabeleland South denied Tsvangirai permission to hold a rally in the Manama area.

The police alleged the MDC leader’s security could not be guaranteed allegedly due to the presence of Zanu-PF militia and soldiers who had been spotted in the vicinity of the venue of the proposed rally.

The MDC leader beat Mugabe during the first round of the election on March 29.

Political analysts say only a miracle can save Mugabe from looming electoral defeat after losing nearly 57 percent of the overall vote to his challengers, Tsvangirai and losing independent candidate, Dr Simba Makoni.

But the former guerilla leader is still adamant he can overturn his embarrassing defeat.

He blames his defeat on “rigging” by the MDC through its sympathizers within the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), among other reasons.

But the MDC has rubbished the claims, arguing that Mugabe has a stranglehold on all state institutions, including the highly controversial ZEC.

Mugabe, 84, denies his government is responsible for post election political violence that has since claimed nearly 60 opposition activists and displaced more than 25 000 over the past two months.

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

Four MDC lawmakers have been arrested in the lead-up to the vote later this month, when Mugabe will be seeking to extend his 28 years at the helm of the southern African nation.

A leader of a breakaway MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, was arrested on Sunday over an opinion piece which was heavily critical of 84-year-old
Mugabe’s rule of the former British colony. He has since been bailed.

Violence has also mounted ahead of the run-off, and the MDC says 58 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe militias in recent weeks.

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