Six arrested in riot outside MDC headquarters

2011-11-02 10:25

Harare – Six people were arrested in a riot outside the party headquarters of Zimbawbe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, state media said today, as police denied targeting the offices.

A security officer for Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was among those arrested, The Herald newspaper said.

Harare police spokesperson James Sabau said the incident began when a member of a gospel choir complained that street vendors were selling pirated copies of their CDs.

When police went to arrest the street vendors on a sidewalk near the MDC’s Harvest House headquarters, they ran into the building, he said.

Police chased them inside, sparking a scuffle with MDC activists, he said.

“Police were left with no option but to fire tear canisters into the building. The police were not aware that there was an exit door at the back of the building, which the suspects used to flee,” Sabau said.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said yesterday that the raid on the vendors was an excuse for police to harass the party.

“This is a deliberate attempt by the police to harass and decimate the MDC,” he said.

Tsvangirai has endured more than a decade of violence and intimidation against him and his supporters.

In 2008 he pulled out of a presidential runoff after his victory in the first-round vote ignited a nationwide wave of attacks that left more than 200 of his supporters dead.

To curb the violence, he formed a power-sharing government with Robert Mugabe in 2009, under a deal that left the 87-year-old president in control of the security forces.

Political tensions are intensifying as Zimbabwe inches toward new elections, possibly next year.
Tsvangirai’s supporters, even his ministers, still suffer routine arrests and harassment. MDC rallies and meetings on the country’s new Constitution have been disrupted by pro-Mugabe militants.

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