Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mass arrests claim by Zimbabwe opposition

Mass arrests claim by Zimbabwe opposition

(CNN) -- Zimbabwe's opposition party Sunday said dozens of its members have been detained as authorities try to block the party's challenge to a recount of votes that could crush their claimed victory over President Robert Mugabe.

The arrests began last Tuesday as the MDC staged a strike to protest the government's refusal to acknowledge their victory claim, Movement for Democratic Change lawyer Andrew Makoni told CNN.

Zimbabwe election officials on Saturday began a partial recount of last month's vote despite opposition efforts to halt the move on the grounds that the original results have yet to be released.

Among those arrested were two recently-elected members of parliament, two officials with the MDC's information office and a freelance journalist who was talking to them, Makoni said.

Innocent Matibiri and Luke Tamborinyoka, two officers in the MDC secretariat's information department, were arrested while chatting outside a shopping center in the capital city Harare on Tuesday.

Zimbabwean freelance journalist Frank Chikowore was arrested with them, Makoni said.

Police charged the three with setting a commuter bus on fire last Tuesday, charges Markoni called "far fetched since they were nowhere near the burning bus."

He suggested the bus caught fire because of an electrical problem and not because it was torched.

Others were arrested on charges of placing blockades on roads to prevent people from traveling to their jobs on Tuesday, he said. Makoni said that while some of the MDC members have been released from custody, between 50 and 60 remained locked up Sunday.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission still has not released results of the presidential race three weeks after the election.

The MDC has lost repeated appeals to the High Court to force the commission to announce what the opposition believes would be a victory for MDC presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai over longtime leader Mugabe.

Instead, the election commission has begun a recount in 23 voting districts where Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has said there were counting irregularities.

Electoral officials did announce parliamentary results that showed the opposition winning the majority of seats, but the ongoing recount could reverse that margin.

I saw this headline over at, and I have to say that I'm not surprised. I'm quite sad, really. I knew that Mugabe would never give over power easily, and Zimbabwe will be pushed to the brink.

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