Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Zim police arrest 43 protesters

Police in the Zimbabwean capital Harare arrested 43 demonstrators who tried to march to President Robert Mugabe's offices on his birthday to demand a new Constitution, local reports said.

The 43, all members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), were late on Tuesday being detained at Harare Central police station, said lawyer Alec Muchadehama.

All but one of the detained are women, he said.

"They [the police] have not advised them what charges they are likely to face," Muchadehama told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in a telephone interview. It would appear that the police are alleging that they were demonstrating illegally.

Mugabe celebrated his 82nd birthday on Tuesday amid worsening economic hardships in Zimbabwe.

In a statement, the NCA alleged that some of the demonstrators were beaten.

The NCA has regularly staged anti-government marches in recent years, earning the group the wrath of the police and the authorities. Under tough security laws, all organisers of demonstrations are supposed to seek police clearance several days
in advance.

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