Da Mail & Guardian del 13/07/2006
Originale su http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=277283

Police arrest 220 in Zimbabwe protests

Harare, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwean police arrested more than 200 activists in three cities on Wednesday as they marched to demand a new Constitution to replace one seen entrenching President Robert Mugabe's rule, a lobby group said.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said about 1 060 people took to the streets at midday in the capital Harare as well as in Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo.

Police swooped on marchers in the first three cities while protests in the other two went undeterred.

"A number of activists are currently in police custody following what were peaceful demonstrations. In all cases, the arrests followed a severe brutalisation of these innocent citizens by police details armed with button sticks, dogs and tear gas," the NCA said.

"The demonstrations were part of the ongoing campaign for a new Constitution that can help Zimbabwe out of the current political, social and economic crisis," it said in a statement.

The 125 people arrested in Harare included 16 infants and 60 women, the group said.

Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri could not immediately confirm the arrests, but police have over the last few years quashed similar protests and arrested hundreds of activists under tough security laws which bar political gatherings without permission.

Police routinely refuse to sanction the demonstrations, citing the threat of violence breaking out.

Critics say the security laws are aimed at stifling opposition to Mugabe in the face of a deepening economic crisis widely blamed on his 26-year rule.

On Saturday the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said police had banned its leader Morgan Tsvangirai from addressing a rally in a major town over fears he was mobilising support for anti-government protests.

The MDC has warned Mugabe to brace for a wave of "peaceful democratic resistance" against his governing Zanu-PF party as Zimbabweans grapple with soaring prices for basic commodities, transport costs and frequent water and electricity cuts.

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