Zimbabwe police on the look out for MDC “coup plotters”

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Zimbabwe on Monday stepped up police and military security around the country amid claims by Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was “recruiting youths to use as bandits to destabilise our country and topple the government”. Accordingly, the police and military were searching for weapons and suspicious people, he said.

Armed police patrolled central Harare and police sources said the number of roadblocks around the country had been increased. Wayne Bvudzijena, a police spokesman, said police were on “high alert as there are elements within the MDC who are bent on destabilising the country. We will come down very heavily on people found with weapons”.

Nelson Chamisa, MDC spokesman, described the claims that his party was plotting to overthrow Robert Mugabe, the president, as “absurd propaganda”. “Why should the MDC, which controls parliament, want to destabilise itself?” he said.

The move to step up security comes just days before Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, is due to return to the country to chair a crucial meeting of his party next Sunday, at which the opposition will debate whether to continue negotiations with Mr Mugabe’s administration on the establishment of a coalition government. Senior party officials say that the MDC’s top leaders, who met in Johannesburg last week, will recommend that MDC members reject the national unity government that Mr Mugabe plans to set up next month.

The opposition has a growing list of demands, including control over the police, a say in the appointment of senior security personnel, civil servants and regional governors, and the immediate release of dozens of its supporters abducted by the security services over the past two months, some of whom are to stand trial on charges of treason.

Financial Times

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