Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Zimbabwe activists demand release of 103 arrested in demonstration

Harare: Zimbabwe activists yesterday pressed for the release of 103 people arrested last week in a protest against President Robert Mugabe's government, saying police had ignored advice from state lawyers to free the group.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an independent pressure group which has repeatedly seen protests quashed by police in recent years, said it might stage another march today to demand the release of their colleagues.

"The police are trying to force the group to pay admission-of-guilt fines but they have refused," NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said.

"Our lawyers have filed an application for their release at the High Court but are failing to get a judge to hear the case."

Police swooped on the NCA march in Harare on Thursday, and arrested 103 participants for violating security laws. The NCA is demanding a new constitution to replace one it says Mugabe has manipulated to entrench his 26-year rule over Zimbabwe.

The arrests came amid a crackdown by Mugabe's security forces against his opponents, including the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change which has threatened to lead national protests against a collapsing economy....

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