Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tsvangirai needs surgery, others beaten

"...The leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party needed hospital treatment for severe head injuries after police beat him following his arrest at a prayer rally on Sunday, his party said.

Morgan Tsvangirai required surgery to his wounds at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare early yesterday, said an official from his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC leader was arrested in the impoverished township of Highfields where he had gone to attend a prayer rally. Dozens of opposition officials, rights activists and churchmen were also detained....

The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, which called Sunday’s rally, had hoped to circumvent the ban by scheduling prayers after every speaker. Police said that they had arrested the opposition leader and his colleagues because they were “inciting people to engage in violent activities”.

Other opposition officials detained on Sunday were also reported to have been severely assaulted. Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, had his hand broken and was also taken for hospital treatment.

There were fears for the safety of Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman, and Mike Davies, the chairman of the Combined Harare Residents’ Association. They were reported to have been transferred to a police torture centre in Goromonzi, 20 miles from Harare.

There was no information on the whereabouts of a second opposition leader, Arthur Mutambara, who was arrested with Mr Tsvangirai. Mr Mutambara heads a faction of the MDC that broke away from Mr Tsvangirai in late 2005 after an argument over whether the party should participate in polls for a new senate.

Tensions were high in central Harare yesterday. Armed riot police patrolled the main shopping area, apparently fearing unrest.

Violence erupted in Highfields late on Sunday, rippling through at least two other suburbs. Police shot one man dead. Police said that he was part of a gang that had stoned a shopping centre patrol. He has been named as Gift Tandare, a married father of three.....

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