Zimbabwe police defy court order, break up opposition leader's rally

[JURIST] Police in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare ignored a court order [Reuters report] and interfered with a political rally held by opposition group Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [official website] Sunday. According to an MDC spokesman, police arrested members of the audience and used tear gas to break up the crowd gathered to see Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile] begin his presidential campaign. Last week police blocked a previous attempt at the rally citing insufficient resources to ensure safety and order, but a Saturday ruling from the Zimbabwe High Court barred the police from interfering as Judge Mary-Anne Gowora ruled that police had ample notice to prepare.

Political tensions have run high in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] as President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile] announced in December plans to extend his presidency from 2008 to 2010 to correspond with the parliamentary elections. MDC responded with calls for protests against Mugabe's Zanu PF party [party website],and Tsvangirai moved forward with his 2008 presidential campaign. Earlier this month Mugabe indicated that he would not hesitate to use force [Reuters report] against opposition protests. Mugabe has been office since the nation's liberation from Britain in 1980, and has become the target of growing criticism as unemployment and poverty rates soar and food shortages become more severe. Boycotts calling for higher wages have gripped the health care and education sectors, with the possibility of a civil servants' strike looming in the coming days. AP has more.



 

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