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Zimbabwe police arrest opposition party officials ahead of presidential election

[JURIST] Zimbabwe police arrested [MDC press release] a pilot and several members of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website, in English] as they were arriving at Harare International Airport to deliver campaign materials, a MDC spokesman said Tuesday. The MDC has previously accused the government of using arbitrary arrests and "trumped up charges" to block it from participating in presidential elections scheduled for Saturday. Last Sunday, the MDC accused [JURIST report] Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of plotting to commit election fraud by printing millions of surplus ballot papers in advance of Saturday's vote.

Mugabe, now 84 years old, has served as the head of government in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] since 1980, when the country attained independence from Britain. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] raised doubts about the upcoming election in a report [text] last week, suggesting that it was likely to be "deeply flawed." Despite concerns about fairness, analysts project that the election poses the biggest threat to Mugabe's rule since he took office. Reuters has more.

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