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Zimbabwe opposition say ruling party militants prevent MDC from holding campaign rally

Zimbabwe opposition say ruling party militants prevent MDC from holding campaign rally

Zimbabwe's opposition had a successful day of campaigning despite attempts by ruling party militants to thwart election activities, party officials said Sunday.
President Robert Mugabe's supporters cordoned off the area where opposition leaders were to speak in a Harare suburb, preventing the opposition from going ahead with the rally, Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.
However, two other gatherings went ahead as planned in Harare despite militants threatening and intimidating supporters at the venue, Chamisa said.
"The people are so strong and so courageous. It was very successful," he said.
On Saturday, a court had struck down a police ban on opposition rallies.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces off against Mugabe in a presidential runoff June 27. Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round in March, but not enough to avoid a runoff.
Tsvangirai, meanwhile, continued campaigning Sunday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second main city, where he has been speaking to small groups of voters around Bulawayo.
He also made a surprise visit at a small rally in Kwekwe, where he urged supporters to go and vote, the party said in a statement.
"The people have already won. The coming election would only reaffirm this victory," Tsvangirai said. "Zimbabweans would resoundingly defeat the regime and begin a new life with hope of a better Zimbabwe."
However, the opposition said police attacked supporters in Bulawayo and prevented them from putting up election campaign posters.
A team of four party members were putting up posters when they were confronted by police and other security forces who told them that "it was Mugabe's country and only Mugabe could put posters on street poles and the MDC would not be allowed," the opposition said in a statement.
The team continued on to the railway station, but were followed by police in riot gear and on bicycles, the party said. The police assaulted the MDC members with baton sticks. One person suffered a broken leg and was admitted to hospital.
Comment from the police was not immediately available.
Tsvangirai's spokesman, George Sibotshiwe, said Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe into a police state.
"The regime is denying the people their fundamental rights in order to steal the June 27 election and subvert the will of the Zimbabwean people through widespread violence and killings, wanton arrests and by closing political space for the MDC to campaign," he said.
Also Sunday, a court ordered police to release opposition lawmaker Eric Matinenga, who was taken from his home Saturday and detained at a station outside the capital. He was accused of fomenting violence, lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said.
Matinenga, also detained on similar charges earlier in the week but released because of a lack of evidence, is among scores of opposition activists arrested in recent weeks. Matinenga, himself an attorney, has represented opposition leaders in a string of high-profile court cases.
The opposition and rights groups cite a rise in violence and intimidation in the run-up to the vote. Tsvangirai's party, blaming state agents, says at least 60 of its supporters have been slain in the past two months.
Tsvangirai, who his party says has been the target of at least three assassination attempts, left Zimbabwe after the March vote, but returned in late May to campaign for the runoff.


Updated : 2021-06-17 06:15 GMT+08:00