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Africa
Zimbabwe MDC official arrested
Tendai Biti is picked up at Harare airport as he steps off plane from South Africa.
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2008 13:38 GMT
The arrest is seen as the latest move to crack down on the MDC ahead of the presidential run-off vote [AFP]
Zimbabwe police have arrested the opposition MDC's secretary general at Harare airport as he returned home from South Africa to campaign for the June 27 election, party officials have said.

 

The arrest of Tenda

Biti was detained as he stepped off a plane at Harare airport.
 
"About 10 men in plain clothes handcuffed him as he came out of the plane and took him downstairs and drove him away," Luke Tamborinyika, MDC information director, said.
Illegal proclamation
 
Biti had been wanted by the authorities after proclaiming on March 30 that the MDC had won both the presidential and parliamentary elections before an official announcement was made.

 

He left the country soon after the disputed March 29 elections to seek African support for the MDC.

 

Nqobizitha Mlilo, a senior official of the MDC, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that it was not clear what charges will be brought against Biti.

 

"Whatever charges may be, the point remains that this is unnecessary harassment on the leadership of the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe"

Mlilo, senior official of the MDC
He said the MDC's national spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, was in a position to shed light on the nature of charges Biti would face.

 

Mlilo said: "Whatever charges may be, the point remains that this is unnecessary harassment on the leadership of the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe.

 

"What the people of Zimbabwe want is change and that change is represented by Mr Tindai Biti, Nelson Chamisa, Roy Bennett - the leadership of the MDC in general and president Tsvangirai.

 

"This is what the focus should be -- to give the people of Zimbabwe a new beginning and a new life.

 

"We have been very clear consistently since 2000 that we can never have free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

 

"In fact, the socio-polical framework in Zimbabwe is incapable of producing a free and fair election ... What we demand is the will of the people of Zimbabwe to be respected and their will must be allowed to prevail."

 

'Intimidation campaign'

 

The MDC and human rights groups have accused president Robert Mugabe's government of waging a violent intimidation campaign ahead of the run-off against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

   

The MDC says Zanu-PF activists have killed 66 opposition supporters to try to intimidate voters before the run-off, and police have detained Tsvangirai twice over the past week while he was attempting to campaign.

   

The ruling party blames the opposition for the political violence.

   

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of elections in March but didn't get enough votes to avoid a run-off, according to official figures.

   

Mugabe's support has been eroded by the economic collapse of the once prosperous country, which he has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980.

   

Tsvangirai says Zimbabweans cannot afford Mugabe's rule any longer.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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